Thu, Dec 25, 2014 - Page 7 News List

At least 60 journalists killed this year

DANGEROUS TRADE:With 79 journalists killed in Syria since 2011, the country has become an information black hole, a committee said, as reporters stay away

AP, NEW YORK

At least 60 journalists around the world were killed this year while on the job or because of their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Tuesday, making the past three years the deadliest for journalists since the organization began keeping track more than two decades ago.

Syria was connected to two of the more horrifying killings of journalists this year — the beheadings by Islamic State extremists of US freelancers James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Both had disappeared while reporting on the conflict.

The conflict in Ukraine between the new government and Russian-backed separatists saw five journalists and two media workers killed. They were the first that the committee had recorded in Ukraine since 2001.

An “unusually high proportion” — or about one quarter — of journalists killed this year were international ones, although the overwhelming number of journalists threatened continue to be local, the New York-based organization’s report said.

Two journalists for The Associated Press (AP) and a freelance translator for the AP were among the committee’s count.

Those killed this year include Anja Niedringhaus, an AP photographer who was shot to death while covering elections in Afghanistan.

AP video journalist Simone Camilli and freelance translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash were killed in an explosion at an ordnance dump in the Gaza Strip in August.

In addition, AP photographer Franklin Reyes Marrero died in a car accident while returning from an assignment in Cuba. The committee does not count deaths from illness or car or plane crashes, unless they were the result of “hostile action.”

“2014 was a tragic year for journalists worldwide and for our organization in particular,” AP vice president and senior managing editor for international news John Daniszewski said.

While the casualties stemmed from war and conflict in different parts of the world, “they remind us of the daily courage and sacrifices made by professional journalists to bring back the news and information that so many rely on and take for granted,” he said.

The report said that the number of journalists killed this year was down from 70 the year before, but the past three years have been the deadliest since the organization started compiling such records in 1992.

Forty-four percent of the journalists killed were targeted for murder, this year’s report said.

The crushing conflict in Syria, now well into its fourth year, has been a major factor. The report said at least 17 journalists were killed there this year, with at least 79 killed since the fighting began in 2011.

“Syria has never been more dangerous for journalists,” committee research associate Jason Stern said in a blog post.

He said that while the count of journalists killed in Syria this year is down from 29 last year, the nation has become “an information black hole,” as journalists flee or stay away.

The committee says it is still investigating the deaths of at least 18 other journalists this year.

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