As someone who has been overseas (albeit not in a bonafide war zone) and had my life at risk by thugs at gunpoint (once), seeing video of the actual death of a photographer turns my stomach and should make you realize just how dangerous being a photojournalist is these days.
Photojournalists risk their lives everyday, around the world, to bring back the news. When they are employees of a company, they have the full support of the organization they work for, including medical, (sometimes mental health coverage), disability, and life insurance, not to mention coverage for all their equipment.
When a news organization hires a freelancer, and pays them a few hundred dollars for the day (usually not enough to cover the rental charges on the gear they would bring to an assignment, let alone their talent) the freelancer is responsible for their health, disability, and life insurance protections. According to WikiLeaks who broke this story (and PDN here), the photographer and driver were Reuters employees.
As a freelance photographer, whomever you work for, make damn sure that you have full medical/disability/life insurances, because while you are likely to not be shot from a helicopter, you could crash on the interstate, and you need to be able to get on with your life - and value it.
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