The world is a more dangerous place for journalists. Journalists are increasingly at risk of being killed or imprisoned for doing their jobs, a situation that imperils press freedom. From 2011 to 2012, the number of journalists behind bars because of their work increased from 53 to 232, and the 70 journalists killed in the line of duty during 2012 represents a 43 percent increase, compared with 2011, according to a study by the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ). Over the past two decades, a journalist is killed once every eight days.
The CPJ also published a Risk List, identifying the ten countries worldwide where press freedom suffered the most in 2012. Notably, half of the nations on the Risk List—Brazil, Turkey, Pakistan, Russia, and Ecuador—“practice some form of democracy and exert significant influence on a regional or international stage.”
“When journalists are silenced, whether through violence or laws, we all stand to lose because perpetrators are able to obscure misdeeds, silence dissent, and disempower citizens,” said CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney.
The CPJ has been a leader in advocating for full implementation of a five-year-old UN resolution calling for protection of journalists in conflict zones, in order to guarantee a free and safe press. Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the freedom to “impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,” making freedom of press a transnational right.
The New York Times ran a story on the CPJ report on February 15, 2013, noting the alarming rise in the number of journalists killed and imprisoned during 2012. However, the Times’ report did not address the possible UN resolution or freedom of press as a transnational right.
Dave Lindorff, of ThisCantBeHappening!, writes that “the incidence of journalists killed by US forces in recent US conflicts has been much, much greater than it ever was in earlier wars, such as the one in Vietnam, or in Korea or World War II,” begging the question of whether some of the deaths have been “deliberate, perhaps with the intent of keeping journalists in line.”
Journalism Under Attack Around the Globe
Roy Greenslade, “Journalism Under Attack Across the Globe Imperils Press Freedom,” Guardian, February 14, 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2013/feb/14/press-freedom-censorship.
“Attacks on the Press: Journalism on the Frontlines in 2012,” Committee to Project Journalists, http://cpj.org/2013/02/attacks-on-the-press-in-2012.php.
Dave Lindorff, “Incidents Raise Suspicions on Motive: Killing of Journalists by US Forces a Growing Problem,” ThisCantBeHappening!, November 22, 2012, http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1438.
Student Researcher: Qui Phan (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (College of Marin)