As conflicts continue to brew, journalism is now more important than ever to keep up with ongoing developments in a rapidly changing world.
Nevertheless, the profession has been getting steadily more dangerous by the day, as data and research on the matter clearly demonstrates the perils of the job.
According to a report by UNESCO published in 2021, a journalist has been killed every four days, on average, since the early 2010s.
What is most alarming in the report is that the overwhelming majority of crimes committed against journalists go unpunished.
“Impunity for crimes against journalists continues to prevail, with nine of ten killings remaining unpunished,” the report said.
Amid Israel’s aggression in Palestinian Territories and the illegally blockaded Gaza Strip, its crimes against journalists are under the spotlight, once again.
Since 7 October, at least 27 journalists have been confirmed dead in the ongoing conflict, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
An overwhelming majority were Palestinians – 22 – and most of them were killed in Israel’s relentless bombardment on the Gaza Strip.
At least four Israeli journalists and one Lebanese have also been killed, while eight journalists were injured and nine reported missing or detained, the CPJ said.
It has also documented cases of threats, censorship and killings of family members.
The most recent was the tragedy with Al Jazeera correspondent, Wael Dahdouh, whose entire family including his wife, daughter and son were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.
Israeli forces have also killed several journalists in the past.
Last year, another Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, was killed in the Occupied West Bank.Shireen, a senior Al Jazeera journalist, widely respected for her extensive coverage of Palestine and Israel, was shot in the head while reporting on an Israeli military raid in the Occupied West Bank city of Jenin in May 2022.
A UN-mandated investigative body released a new report last week saying that Israeli forces employed “lethal force without justification” when they shot and killed journalist, Shireen, last year.
In May 2021, Yusef Abu Hussein, a radio broadcaster, was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.
In April 2018, two journalists, Ahmad Abu Hussein and Yaser Murtaja were shot by the Israeli military in Gaza.
During the 2014 flare-up, Italian journalist, Simone Camilli, and his fellow Palestinian reporters, Ali Shehda Abu Afash, Mohammed Daher, Mohammed Nour Al-Din Al-Deiri, Rami Rayan, Sameh Al-Aryan, Ahed Zaqout, Khaled Hamad and Hamid Shibab were all killed by either Israeli ground troops or Israeli airstrikes.
Other journalists killed or wounded by Israeli forces in the past include Welsh documentary filmmaker, James Miller, who was fatally shot in the neck by Israeli soldiers, and Anthony Shadid, who was shot in the shoulder while reporting for The Boston Globe.
UNESCO records paint a grim picture for safety of war reporters, who go to lengths only a few select dare to.
According to data from UNESCO records, a total of 819 journalists have been killed while covering conflicts since 1993.
Data also shows that majority of journalists killed in war zones were citizens of mostly under-developed or developing countries.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also published a report that shows an average of 80 journalists have been killed every year between 2000 and 2022.
A total of 1,787 journalists have been killed since 2000, RSF said in the report published last December.
“The annual death tolls peaked in 2012 and 2013, with 144 and 142 journalists killed, respectively,” read the report.
“During the past two decades, 80 per cent 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,” the RSF further added, stating that Afghanistan, Yemen, Palestine and Somalia follow them.
Russia remains the most dangerous country for journalists, the report said.
“The war that began in Ukraine on 24 February 2022 is one of the reasons why this country has Europe’s second highest death toll,” RSF added.
“Eight journalists have been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded. But an additional 12 were killed there during the 19 preceding years.”
RSF also provided details with regards to journalists being killed in conflict areas, further emphasising that war zones continue to be the deadliest places for reporters.
“During the past decade, reporters have run the greatest risks in areas where armed clashes were taking place. Of the 686 killings since 2014, 335 have been in war zones (including Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen). The five deadliest years were from 2012 to 2016, with 94 killed in 2012, 92 in 2013, 64 in 2014, 52 in 2015 and 53 in 2016,” RSF said.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also released a report which offers a similarly grim outlook.
According to the report published in March 2021, a total of 2,658 journalists were killed between 1990 and 2020.
In the 30-year span, 340 journalists were killed in Iraq, while 178 were killed in Mexico. Philippines follows with 160, Pakistan with 138 and India with 116 reporters killed.
Journalists at risk in Latin America
Latin American countries continue to be highly dangerous for journalists, even though there is no active conflict in the region.
A CPJ report published early this year said Latin America was “the deadliest region for the press” in 2022, “with 30 journalists killed, accounting for nearly half of the 67 journalists and media workers killed worldwide.”
“Across Latin America, journalists covering crime, corruption, gang violence and the environment were found to be most at risk,” the report added.
“In Mexico, CPJ documented a total of 13 journalists killed, the highest-ever number in a single year in that country.”
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.