It's now been 33 days since anyone's heard from missing Houston journalist Austin Tice, lost somewhere in Syria, possibly in captivity, and even Twitter's gone quiet about him. This is how these things work, unfortunately, when it comes to social media -- everyone expresses outrage, panic, disappointment, whatever, but then some meme catches the eye and the next click involves something else entirely.
Still, something more must be expected of the newspapers he worked for and the country he belongs to. But is anything happening?
Weeks have passed since anyone, anywhere has talked about Tice. The last time anyone said something was at the end of last month when it was reported that Tice was in Syrian custody, according to the Czech Embassy in Syria, which has pursued some American interests in the United States' stead. The U.S. closed its embassy when Syria disappeared into a vacuum of violence and chaos last year, tapping the Czech Republic as its "protecting power." And, it seems, the quest to find Tice has also vanished into that black hole.
Tice, a Georgetown law student and a former Marine, left for Syria in March of 2011, and has since freelanced several pieces for the Washington Post, McClatchy's news service, BCS News, Al Jazeera English, and Agence France-Presse. His work has been praised by all these news bodies, but it's unknown just what any of them have done to find him or get him out Syrian custody besides releasing some best wishes.
Delphine Halgand of Reporters Without Borders said no one's heard anything additional about Tice, and has requested that we respect Tice's parents, Marc and Debra, who have asked for peace until more news breaks.
But wouldn't that allow people, addled by constant Internet inanity, to forget that there's still a journalist -- either missing, dead, or in Syrian imprisonment? The Washington Post reported at the end of last month that the Czechs said Tice had been taken into Syrian custody. But the Syrian government hasn't confirmed that yet, the U.S. Department of State has said.
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So it might be possible that a group of news organizations haven't perhaps done enough to get him out, and the U.S. State Department has effectively asked some Czechs to look into it? How did this happen?
A public relations member at the The Washington Post, Molly Gannon, said she "didn't know off the top of her head" what the Post has done to help Tice.
The Post also doesn't apparently offer much protection or insurance to its freelancers. (Gannon later called back saying she's not sure if the Post offers insurance to freelancers, and just because she didn't know what the Post has done to help Tice, doesn't mean the organization hasn't worked on this. She said she's looking into it.)
We find all this terribly disconcerting. Tice was out there -- granted, of his own volition -- trying to bring us news of the tragedy of Syria's civil war, and the places that bought his reportage, in some ways seem to have forgotten him when he disappears? Is that really what has occurred?