The killing of international journalists reporting in war and conflict zones horrified the world and seized the media spotlight this year.
A report released Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists finds that 2014 has, indeed, been an «unusually» dangerous time for international journalists. However, it is local journalists—whose names may never be known to the international community—who face the greatest danger and highest death rate, the analysis reveals.
«This is the most dangerous time to be a journalist we have ever seen,» said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. «Historically, local journalists have always borne the brunt of the danger, and this is still the case. But the increased attacks on international journalists show that in the current environment, everyone is a target.»
The past three years have been the most deadly for journalists since CPJ began keeping track in 1992, the report notes, and at least half of the at least 60 journalists killed in 2014 were in the Middle East. Reporters Without Borders recently put this number slightly higher, at 66 journalists killed and 119 kidnapped in 2014.
International journalists accounted for nearly 25 percent of those killed, double the proportion in recent years. The CPJ report attributes this high rate, in part, to «the increasingly volatile nature of conflict zones in which Westerners are often deliberately targeted.»
While the world knows the names of Western journalists who were killed this year—including freelance U.S. journalist James Foley, U.S.-Israeli freelance journalist Steven Sotloff, German Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus, and others— the «overwhelming majority of journalists under threat for their work continue to be local,» the report states.
In Syria, which is now the second deadliest country for journalists since CPJ began keeping track in 1992, most of the approximately 20 journalists currently missing are local, the report states.
Furthermore, in Iraq, all five journalists killed in 2014, as documented by CPJ, were local. Their names were Firas Mohammed Attiyah, Khaled Abdel Thamer, Muthanna Abdel Hussein, Khalid Ali Hamada, and Leyla Yikdizhan.
At least four journalists and three media workers were killed during Israel’s military assault on Gaza in July and August. Of the four journalists named by CPJ, three of them—Sameh al-Aryan, Rami Rayan, and Khaled Reyadh Hamad—worked for Palestinian media outlets, and one, Simone Camilli, worked for the Associated Press.
In the southeast of Guinea, Facély Camara, a journalist for radio Liberté FM at N’Zérékoré, and Molou Chérif and Sidiki Sidibé, technical workers for the community station Radio Rurale de N’Zérékoré, were killed in September while covering an Ebola education campaign.
From Pakistan to Paraguay to Egypt to Burma, the report documents numerous other journalists killed while doing their work.
The analysis follows a separate CPJ report released last week, which finds that 220 journalists are currently imprisoned by governments across the world—a number that does not include people in the custody of non-state actors.