October 7, 2006 Next to being a soldier, where it’s part of your job description to have people shooting at you, journalism rates as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Indeed, 75 journalists have been killed so far this year, making 2006 the deadliest year for journalists on record, according to the World Association of Newspapers. Twenty-six of the deaths occurred in Iraq, where journalists continue to be targeted and murdered. The 75 journalists and other media workers killed through September makes 2006 the most deadly year since WAN began keeping records of journalist murders in 1997. Seventy-two journalists were killed in 2004.
"Journalists in Iraq are not only facing the danger that comes with working in a war zone, they are being hunted down and assassinated simply because they are suspected of cooperating with western news agencies, because of their religious or political affiliation, or because their murderers believe that killing journalists will advance their aims," said Timothy Balding, CEO of the Paris-based WAN.
"Journalism today is more dangerous than ever," he said. "More than 500 journalists have been killed in the past decade, often for simply doing their jobs. These murders are a direct attack not only on individuals, but also on society as a whole. Yet few of the killers are ever brought to justice."
The Philippines, where criminal gangs and corrupt politicians have long been targetting investigative journalists without fear of prosecution, has seen eight journalists murdered so far in 2006.
Journalists have been killed in 19 other countries this year: Afghanistan (1), Angola (2), Bangladesh (1), Brazil (1), China (2), Colombia (4), Democratic Republic of Congo (1), Ecuador (2), Guatemala (1), Guyana (6), India (2), Indonesia (1), Lebanon (2), Mexico (1), Pakistan (3), Russia (1), Somalia (1), Sri Lanka (5), Sudan (1), Turkmenistan (1) and Venezuela (2).
The death toll compares with 58 killed in 2005, 72 killed in 2004, 53 killed in 2003, 46 killed in 2002, 60 killed in 2001, 53 killed in 2000, 70 killed in 1999, 28 in 1998, and 26 in 1997.
Details of all the cases can be found here.
Several press freedom organisations track the number of journalists killed each year. The numbers vary based on the criteria used by different associations. WAN’s figures include all media workers killed in the line of duty or targeted because of their work. It also includes cases where the motive for the killings is unsure or where investigations have not been completed.