A FORMER North East journalist is missing in Libya, it emerged last night.
Dave Clark, 38, who works as a reporter for Agence France-Presse, was covering the conflict in the eastern city of Tobruk when he disappeared along with photographers Roberto Schmidt, 45, and Joe Raedle.
Mr Clark, a reporter for the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle in the late 1990s, said in an email to his senior editors on Friday evening that the group had planned to travel early on Saturday to a region around 30 kilometres from Tobruk.
Once there, he said, they would attempt to meet opponents of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi and speak to refugees fleeing the fighting.
The three journalists have not been heard from or seen since the email was sent.
Mr Clark has worked in battle zones such as Iraq, Kosovo and Nigeria over the past decade and was described last night as a “great journalist and good man” by people who had worked with him in Newcastle.
He has been reporting from Libya since March 8.
The reporter’s online biography on the AFP website says: “Dave Clark joined AFP at the back end of the 20th century after learning everything a journalist ever needs to know as a news reporter on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.
“Since then he has, at various times, been shot at or threatened by Serbian and Macedonian anti-terrorist forces, Albanian guerrillas, Nigerian pirates, Liberian child soldiers and Iraqi insurgents.
“Not that he bears a grudge. In September 2008, he lowered his more than ample frame into an office chair at AFP’s Paris bureau, from where he now reports on the diplomatic, economic and political doings of Europe's most self-effacing nation.”
Mr Clark was highly regarded as a reporter during his time in the North East with the Chronicle.
Former colleague Miles Starforth, now a sports writer for the Shields Gazette in South Tyneside, wrote on the Twitter website last night: “Praying for my mate and former colleague Dave Clark, who is missing in Libya with another AFP journalist and a photographer.”
His concern was echoed by thousands of journalists around the world who also posted comments on the social networking site last night.
Another former colleague of Mr Clark’s at the Evening Chronicle said: “He is a great reporter and a superb operator. Very experienced as well.
“He is a true journalist who was always willing to take risks. During his time here, he broke some great stories and was a popular figure in the office. I just hope he is found safe and well.”
Mr Schmidt, who has been in Libya since February 28, also works for AFP and Mr Raedle is a photographer for Getty Images.
AFP describes itself as a worldwide news agency providing fast, accurate, in-depth coverage in video, text, photographs, graphics and a pre-packaged multimedia format across the globe.
Its journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat and a whole lot more.
AFP’s 2,900 staff are spread through 165 countries providing round-the-clock coverage in six languages.
The news of the men going missing emerged after allied forces launched military strikes on Libya over the weekend.