With murders, contract killings, ambushes, war zone deaths and fatal injuries, a staggering total of 1668 journalists have been killed worldwide in connection with their work in the last two decades (2003-2022), according to the tallies by the Paris-based global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) based on its annual round-ups.
This gives an average of more than 80 journalists killed every year. The total killed since 2000 is 1787.
RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said:
“Behind the figures, there are the faces, personalities, talent and commitment of those who have paid with their lives for their information gathering, their search for the truth and their passion for journalism.
In each of its annual round-ups, RSF has continued to document the unjustifiable violence that has specifically targeted media workers.
This year’s end is an appropriate time to pay tribute to them and to appeal for full respect for the safety of journalists wherever they work and bear witness to the world’s realities.
The annual death tolls peaked in 2012 and 2013 with 144 and 142 journalists killed, respectively. These peaks, due in large measure to the war in Syria, were followed by a gradual fall and then historically low figures from 2019 onwards.
Sadly, the number of journalists killed in connection with their work in 2022 — 58 according to RSF’s Press Freedom Barometer on December 28 — was the highest in the past four years and was 13.7 percent higher than in 2021, when 51 journalists were killed.
15 most dangerous countries
During the past two decades, 80 percent of the media fatalities have occurred in 15 countries. The two countries with the highest death tolls are Iraq and Syria, with a combined total of 578 journalists killed in the past 20 years, or more than a third of the worldwide total.
They are followed by Afghanistan, Yemen and Palestine. Africa has not been spared, with Somalia coming next.
With 47.4 percent of the journalists killed in 2022, America is nowadays clearly the world’s most dangerous continent for the media, which justifies the implementation of specific protection policies.
Women journalists also victims
Finally, while many more male journalists (more than 95 percent) have been killed in war zones or in other circumstances than their female counterparts, the latter have not been spared.
A total of 81 women journalists have been killed in the past 20 years — 4.86 percent of the total media fatalities.
Since 2012, 52 have been killed, in many cases after investigating women’s rights. Some years have seen spikes in the number of women journalists killed, and some of the spikes have been particularly alarming.
In 2017, ten women journalists were killed (as against 64 male journalists) — a record 13.5 percent of that year’s total media fatalities.
Pacific Media Watch collaborates with Reporters Without Borders.