In a world dominated by hi-def talking heads speaking from the climate-controlled comforts of high rise office studios, it’s important to remember those who actually risk their lives in order to secure the news. Sometimes the profession of journalism includes an immeasurable cost: the lives of the reporters risking their safety to keep the rest of the world informed.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has the grim task of tracking the number of journalists and other media workers that are killed each year around the world. CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon explains the importance of keeping track of this gruesome information:
CPJ’s mission – grounded in international law – is to fight for the rights of all journalists to report the news freely, without fear of reprisal. Our list of journalists killed is a key advocacy tool in this struggle. We routinely use it to confront governments with their own record of indifference or ineptitude, as we’ve done recently in Pakistan, Mexico, and Russia.
Their data for 2011 was released earlier today and while it wasn’t the deadliest year on record it certainly wasn’t a low-risk one, either. CPJ provided an interactive graphic that details the fine statistics of the 43 journalists were killed throughout the world with 19 of them murdered.
CPJ’s survey identified significant changes in the nature of journalist fatalities. Sixteen journalists died while on dangerous assignments, many of them while covering the chaotic and violent confrontations between authorities and protesters during the uprisings that swept the Arab world. The victims included Hassan al-Wadhaf, a Yemeni cameraman shot by a sniper while covering antigovernment protests in Sana’a, and Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud, an Egyptian reporter gunned down while filming a protest in Cairo. “Journalists working in this environment are in no less danger than war correspondents covering an armed conflict,” said Ahmed Tarek, a reporter for the Middle East News Agency who was assaulted by police while covering protests in Alexandria, Egypt. “The greatest danger journalists are facing today in post-revolution Arab countries is the targeting of journalists by political forces hostile to anyone who exposes them.”
For the second year in a row Pakistan topped the list of most dangerous places for journalists as 7 were killed while reporting from that country. With all that has happened in the Middle East year during the Arab Spring, it probably won’t surprise anyone that 7 out of the 10 deadliest countries for a reporter to be working are located in that region. The grisly violence directed to journalists wasn’t isolated only to that region, though, as the 4th deadliest place in the world for journalism was Mexico, most likely due to the surmounting violence associated with the Zetas drug cartel.
While CPJ keeps track of the death toll of journalists in the past year, this data does not include the journalists that were beaten and severely injured while in the line of duty. Including those statistics, journalism becomes mutates into an even more dangerous profession.