One thousand journalists have been killed trying to report the news over the past 10 years, with only one in four dying in a war and other armed conflicts, according to a new study.
The survey conducted by the London-based International News Safety Institute (INSI) showed that at least 657 men and women were murdered in peacetime — reporting the news in their own countries. In two-thirds of the cases, the killers were not even identified, and probably never will be.
"In many countries, murder has become the easiest, cheapest and most effective way of silencing troublesome reporting, and the more the killers get away with it, the more the spiral of death is forced upwards,” said Rodney Pinder, director of INSI.
"Most of those killed were murdered because of their jobs; eliminated by hostile authorities or criminals as they tried to shine light into the darkest corners of their societies,” he said in a statement seen by the Hindustan Times on Thursday.
The news media death toll has increased steadily since 2000. The last full year covered by the report, 2005, was a record with 147 dead. It has since emerged that 2006 was even worse, with 167 fatalities, according to INSI’s (www.newssafety.com) annual tally.
Shooting was by far the greatest cause of death, accounting for almost half the total, the results of the survey conducted between January 1996 and June 2006. Bombing, stabbing, beating, torture, strangulation and decapitation were also used to silence reporting. Some men and women disappeared, their fate unknown.
In war, it was much safer to be embedded with an army than not — independent news reporters, so-called unilaterals, accounted for 92 per cent of the dead.
Overall, armed forces — regular or irregular — police and officials accounted for 22 per cent of killings.
The death toll was evenly split between press and broadcast. But news agencies, which are fewer in number, were relatively badly hit with six per cent of the total.
Most of those who died were on staff — 91 per cent against 9 per cent freelance — and one-third fell near their home, office or hotel.