The job of a journalist can be incredibly dangerous when working from nations in conflict and this year has proven to be one of the most deadly on record in recent years.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization that keeps track of journalists who have been killed, kidnapped, or who have gone missing, 2014 marked the end to the most dangerous three-year period for journalists ever on record. In total, 60 journalists and 11 media workers were killed this year compared to 70 journalists and four media workers in 2013. The majority of these journalists were local people covering local stories and approximately one-third were freelancers.
Syria stands at the top of the list this year as the most deadly nation for journalists, as the country is embattled in a civil war that began in 2011 after the Arab Spring Revolutions. In the country alone, 17 journalists were killed; a stark contrast to the rest of the nations that all had less than five casualties. The total number of journalists killed since the start of the Syrian Civil War now stands at 79.
The disappearance of journalists in Syria is also a major issue as CPJ reports that due to the conflict it’s difficult to keep track of all journalists who are kidnapped or who have gone missing.
Of those journalists who lost their lives this year, the deaths of James Foley and Steven Sotloff garnered significant media attention. Foley, a U.S. freelance journalist was beheaded on video by members of the Islamic State nearly 21 months after being kidnapped. Two weeks later, Sotloff, a U.S.-Israeli freelance journalist was executed in a similar fashion.
In addition to those murdered this year, there were also a near record-breaking number of journalists jailed for their work, with over 200 for the third year in a row. China is currently holding the most journalists behind bars compared to any other nation with 44 – the highest number CPJ has ever recorded for the country.
The CPJ has released their annual report every year since it started recording deaths in 1992. Their database includes detailed information on each journalist killed, imprisoned, exiled, or missing, and aims to create awareness and “defend journalists worldwide,” according to their website.
The number of journalists killed in each country include: Syria, 17; Iraq, 5; Ukraine, 5; Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory, 4; Somalia, 4; Pakistan, 3; Afghanistan, 3; Paraguay, 3; Brazil, 2; Mexico, 2; India, 2; Egypt, 1; South Africa, 1; Central African Republic, 1; Burma, 1; Philippines, 1; Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1; Bangladesh, 1; Guinea, 1; Yemen, 1; Libya, 1; according to the CPJ database.
Follow Sean Flynn on Twitter @BuffaloFlynn.