Death of British journalist in Afghanistan
Saturday was a grim day for all of us involved in reporting the war in Afghanistan. Since 2001, 246 British servicemen and women have died there. The death of the Sunday Mirror's Defence correspondent, Rupert Hamer, was the first of a British journalist.
Figures published last week by the International News Safety Institute show that 132 journalists were killed in 35 different countries around the world in 2009 - one of the worst yearly tolls on record. Seventeen have died in Afghanistan since the start of the war in 2001.
Of course, the death of a journalist is no more significant than any other; a US marine was also killed alongside Rupert Hamer; five other marines were injured, with the Mirror's photographer, Phil Coburn.
However, the loss of Rupert Hamer serves to remind us of the dangers faced, not just by military personnel in Afghanistan, but also by those committed to telling the story of the conflict there - and the courage they display in doing so.
In Helmand, the journalists "embedded" with British and American troops share every aspect of life with those they are reporting on - the same accommodation, vehicles, food... and risk.
Rupert Hamer and the US marine were killed when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle. Two weeks ago, a Canadian reporter, Michelle Lang, was also killed with four Canadian soldiers in the neighbouring province of Kandahar - their vehicle was blown up by another "improvised explosive device".
The IED, the weapon of choice for those fighting Nato forces in Afghanistan, doesn't discriminate between soldier, civilian and journalist.
For the BBC, there is no more important story than the war there - to our audiences in the UK and around the world, particularly those in Afghanistan itself. If we, and other news organisations, are to report it accurately, then doing so from the front line is vital.
We try to manage the risk to an acceptable level - but tragically, as we have witnessed this weekend, the danger is real. For reporters in Afghanistan, there are no hiding places.
Rightly, the sacrifice of the service personnel who have lost their lives in Afghanistan is well recognised and respected. But the courage and commitment of the journalists who tell their story is every bit as great as the risk they endure. Without them, readers, listeners and viewers would be the poorer.
Jon Williams is the BBC World News Editor.