Skip to main content

Journalist Deaths Down Worldwide

At least 48 professional journalists were killed while doing their jobs worldwide in 2016, but that number jumps to 74 if media workers—support staff, translators—and "citizen journalists" are included.

The numbers are only approximate because there are other journalists missing or whose cause of death is unclear.

That is according to reports from the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, which issued their annual reports Monday.

Reporters Without Borders decided to use the expanded definition for this year's report.

"[We] have this year included both media personnel and citizen journalists in our overall figure of 74 journalists killed, compared with last year, when we reserved our overall figure for professional journalists alone," said a spokesperson for the group. "This is because citizen journalists and media contributors are playing a growing role in the production of news and information, especially in countries with oppressive regimes and countries at war, where it is hard for professional journalists to operate."

Those death tolls are down from the year before, but the Reporters Without Borders group said that was primarily because reporters had fled places like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan and Burundi before they became the next name on the list.

It also said it was partly due to journalists who remained but self-censored, in Mexico for example, to keep from being murdered. Mexico was the most dangerous assignment among countries not at war (if the drug war does not count), with nine journalists killed there.

And where there was war, it was a killing field. More than half of the journalists killed in 2016 died in combat or in a crossfire, the highest proportion of such killings since CPJ began compiling the figures in 1992.

"It is undeniably good news that fewer journalists are being murdered, and the decline shows the critical importance of the fight to end impunity," said CPJ executive director Joel Simon in a statement. "However, journalists covering war continue to be killed at an extraordinarily high rate, a reflection of the brutality and unpredictability of modern conflict."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.