World Press Freedom Day: 1,123 journalists killed since 1992, 34 from India

  • Vignesh Radhakrishnan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 03, 2015 13:29 IST

India has been ranked 136 among 180 countries worldwride in terms of press freedom in 2015. As the United Nations observes World Press Freedom Day on May 3, HT assesses the state of press freedom across the world and pays tribute to journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Two sets of data - the world press freedom index and journalist killings around the world - are necessary to throw light on the state of the freedom of the press.

World Press Freedom index

Reporters without borders (RWB), a non-profit organisation that tracks attacks on press freedom, has ranked every country according to its press freedom index.

The Scandinavian countries - Finland, Norway and Denmark - topped the list. China, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia were placed at the end of the list with many Asian and African countries where press freedom is dwindling.

However, there has been a worrying decline in general when compared to last year's index due to information suppression because of various conflicts in 2014 such as the ones in the Middle East, Syria and Iraq.

Here is an interactive map of the 2015 index

India's ranking on the World Press Freedom Index has not improved over the years. It has always scored a three-digit ranking its inception.

According to RWB, the following attacks on media last year were identified as the major issues for India's low score.

1. Indian government's ban on Al-Jazeera for five days for displaying maps in which India’s border with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir did not correspond to its territorial claims.

2. Indian authorities’ search aimed at members of the Karen community in the Andaman Islands, for those who helped two French documentarians gain access to the prohibited lands of the Jarawa tribe.

3. Attacks on journalists in Jammu and Kashmir during coverage of the 2014 parliamentary election.

4. Arrest of Jitendra Prasad Das, a subeditor with the Oriya-language daily Samaj in Cuttack, Odisha, for publishing a picture of the Prophet Mohammed.

Journalists killed in the line of duty

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent non-profit organisation that promotes press freedom worldwide, has ranked every country according to the number of journalists killed in the line of duty till May 2015. CPJ has been publishing the list since 1992.

Twenty-one journalists were killed this year. France tops the list because of the killing of eight journalists from Charlie Hebodo in a terror attack.

Since 1992, 1,123 journalists have been killed in the line of duty. While Iraq tops the list with 166 journalist killings, India is at 9th position with 34 deaths.

Here is the complete list of all the journalists killed since 1992, sorted nationality-wise:

Further analysis of the data brings out the following results:

1. 46% of the journalists who were killed were on the political beat, followed by 38% covering war and 20% corruption. Sports journalism comes at the end of the list with 2%.

2. 51% of journalists who were killed belonged to the print media, followed by 30% from television, 20% from radio and 11% from digital media.

3. 93% of them were male journalists while 17% were freelancers.

4. 66% of them were murdered, 20% were killed in crossfire or combat and 13% died while covering a dangerous assignment.

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