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Editorial: Dangerous Assignment

Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists last week released their respective surveys of the dangerous landscape for journalists, particularly those who are covering what seems a perpetually war-torn world.

CPJ counts 259 journalists in government custody, while Reporters Without Borders says that number rises to 348 when you add in those being held by non-state actors or who are missing.

The number would be even higher if they counted journalists whose status they could not confirm.

That 259 is a record number, thanks in part to Turkey’s crackdown after the failed coup attempt.

Whichever number you use, what is clear is that journalism can be a dangerous profession.

“Journalists working to gather and share information are performing a public service and their rights are protected under international law. It is shocking therefore that so many governments are violating their international commitments by jailing journalists and suppressing critical speech,” CPJ executive director Joel Simon said in releasing their report.

Against that backdrop, President-elect Donald Trump’s continued attacks on the press and his history of limiting access add salt to the wound.

Just last week, Trump and his transition team suggested that journalists reporting on government statements about Russian involvement in the election were perpetuating a narrative meant to delegitimize the election. Then there were the tweeted slams from the president-elect about NBC and CNN for their reporting.

As a campaign strategy, the attacks were bad enough. As presidential policy, they may warrant their own section in the next report on threats to a free press.