A hundred dead journalists. Attacks on newspaper reporters, camera operators, and bloggers. Legal sanctions, criminal libel, intimidation, and censorship. Congratulations, world: Last year was "the most savage and brutal year in the history of the modern media," according to the just released annual report by the Vienna-based International Press Institute.
Nearly half of the dead journalists46 in allcame from Iraq, most of them local reporters targeted by insurgents and death squads. "The murder and kidnapping of local journalists," notes the reports, "made reporting in Iraq possibly the most dangerous assignment ever given to the media."
Also high on the list of deadly sites: Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Mexico, which, for the second year in a row, topped the list as the most dangerous place in the Americas. A Bad Guys salute goes to the government of Cuba, which, with 25 journalists imprisoned, is the biggest jailer of reporters in the hemisphere.
The year's lowlights included the murder of famed reporter Anna Politkovskaya, one of 43 journalists killed in Russia since 1997. (Most of their cases remain unsolved.) Then there was the at-times-violent reaction to the publishing of Danish cartoons portraying the prophet Muhammad, which led to journalists being arrested and prosecutedand in Sudan, even murdered.
|22 Journalists killed so far in 2007|
|100 Journalists killed in 2006|
|65 Journalists killed in 2005|
|78 Journalists killed in 2004|
|64 Journalists killed in 2003|
|54 Journalists killed in 2002|
|55 Journalists killed in 2001|
|56 Journalists killed in 2000|
|86 Journalists killed in 1999|
|50 Journalists killed in 1998|
|28 Journalists killed in 1997|
So how are we doing this year? Lousy. The IPI runs a grim "Death Watch" that tracks the killing of journalists worldwide. Looks as if we're heading toward another of the bloodiest years on record. Used to be that wearing a "Press" badge gave journalists some protection, even in a war zone. Those days are gone.