Social media outlets are abuzz with the news that NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel has been missing in Syria since last Thursday.
Turkish media first published the report, but NBC is staying silent and everyone is hoping it is an unsubstantiated rumor.
Gawker summarizes what is known so far:
NBC News has been asking every reporter who inquires about the report to participate in a news blackout. It has also taken to Twitter and asked people who repeated the Turkish reports there to take them down. You can see here a screengrab of the Twitter account @NBCComm asking a Twitter user who had mentioned the reports to urgently call a cell phone number (that account has since been taken down).
NBC News declined to comment for the record about Engel’s whereabouts, but asked Gawker not to report what it characterized as “rumors” about Engel’s current status.
The Turkish reports have been referenced on Twitter by Slate’s David Weigel, Michelle Malkin, former MSNBC anchor David Shuster, and hundreds of others.
Even some of those reports are starting to come down, though. What was once a related Daily Kos article now shows an “Error!” sign, saying the entry has been deleted.
When journalists have gone missing in the past, news agencies have attempted to keep the issue quiet for the journalists’ safety, and to give the potential captors as little leverage as possible.
“When the family/employer of a missing journalist asks media to do a blackout, that should be respected,” he wrote.
Scahill later added: “There are processes going on that other media are not privy to and you should respect that. It could mean life/death for the missing journo.”
Here is NBC’s last report with Engel in Syria, from December 13:
This is a breaking news story. Updates will be added.