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NY Times reporter comments on beheadings of journalists
Kevin Sack, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter, speaks Monday afternoon with the Rotary Club of Gainesville at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville on Green Street.

Reporters covering dangerous areas of the world go through special training before they start working their first story overseas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter told a Gainesville audience Monday.

Kevin Sack was responding to a question about whether beheadings of two journalists in recent weeks by Islamic militants had changed the newspaper’s coverage strategy “in difficult places.”

“I’m sure it has,” he said. “I’m not really privy to those conversations, because it’s not what I do.”

However, he told the Rotary Club of Gainesville, meeting at the First Baptist Church on Green Street, “the people in those jobs ... are highly experienced and highly trained,” Sack said.

“We send them through security training courses before they go overseas, so that they’ve got some foundation of what to do if they are taken

do if they are taken hostage ... and how to avoid dangerous situations.”

Sack, who got his start at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the early 1980s, said those reporters “are in constant consultation” with editors.

“I would assume at this point that, (with) pretty much every interview they do, there’s a discussion about whether they go meet a person at (a particular) place and how trustworthy they think the situation is.”

“But the bottom line is there’s only so much you can do” in hostile situations, Sack said.

“The (journalists) over there right now are just amazingly courageous. I don’t think I could put myself in their shoes. ... It’s incredibly risky work and yet so important.”

Sack, who lives in Atlanta, also talked about the state of the newspaper industry and a couple of his own pieces, including one about international organ trafficking.

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