Early Wednesday, the White House confirmed what almost everybody expected: The video released by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants on Tuesday purporting to show the murder of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff is authentic.
"Whatever these murderers think they achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed," President Obama said in Estonia at a press conference with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. The executions of Sotloff and fellow American journalist James Foley merely "stiffen our resolve to take the fight" to ISIS, Obama added. "We will not forget.... Our reach is long."
Sotloff is the second journalist murdered in Syria this year, but he's the ninth murdered there since 2012, according to a tally by the Committee to Protect Journalists. None of the other seven murdered reporters and cameramen— four in 2012 and three in 2013 — were American; six were Syrian and the seventh, freelancer Yasser Faisal al-Jumaili, was from Fallujah, Iraq.
In all, at least 74 journalists have been killed in Syria since 2011, according to CPJ's count, three-quarters of them killed in combat or crossfire. The lives of these journalists aren't worth intrinsically more than the other 190,000 people killed in Syria's bloody civil war. But their deaths are a reminder that war journalism is dangerous, and an important enough endeavor that Sotloff, Foley, and the others though it worth risking their lives to pursue.