nations where journalists are killed
Afghan war claimed the lives of two more
international news correspondents in the past two
incidents, Rupert Hamer of Britain's Sunday
Mirror and Michelle Lang of Canada's Calgary
Herald were killed by roadside bombs as they
accompanied soldiers on their missions.
deaths and their bravery in going into extreme
danger to bring us the story deservedly attracted
much attention in the Western media. As director
of the International News Safety Institute, the
premier journalist organization concerned with
safety, my phone rang off the hook with requests
for comment when the news came through.
A few weeks
earlier, Monday, 23 November 2009, became the day
that will live forever in news infamy. Thirty-one
journalists were massacred by gunmen in the
Philippines in the bloodiest single attack in the
history of journalism.
No one called
me. The story, it seems, was low on the global
journalists and other news professionals killed
in 35 countries in 2009, three were international
correspondents. The others were local journalists
covering the news in their own countries, mostly
in peacetime. The great majority -- 98 -- were
murdered for trying to shine a light on the
darkest corners of crime and corruption.
one of the world's great democracies with a
vibrant free press, was by far the most dangerous
country for journalists with 37 dead over the
year. If not for the 23 November massacre, the
deadliest nation would have been Mexico with 11
killed, usually by drug traffickers. Russia,
lawless Somalia and Pakistan followed closely.
Of the 257 news
media who have died since 2003 covering Iraq --
the bloodiest war of modern times for journalists
-- 231 were Iraqis, working for international and
local media outlets.
journalists, never mind their readers, are
surprised when they hear this. Mention a
journalist killed on a story and we all think
automatically of war correspondents who
criss-cross the world in search of danger and big
The reality is
quite the opposite. Most names on international
memorials to the journalist fallen are of
ordinary folk, known only to their colleagues,
families and friends, doing their workaday jobs
and being killed for it.
Why is this news
When I began my
career as an international journalist with The
Associated Press in London a generation ago, a
veteran editor provided me with two rules of
thumb for the worth of a story: 1. "If it
bleeds, it leads" and, 2. "One British
tourist on a motorcycle equals 50 foreigners in a
bus". Crudely put, but we knew what he
meant: all news is local. Readers relate best and
want to know most about someone of our own town,
today's shock update.
In a globalized
world where more journalists are being targeted
for death than ever before, the old rules not
only no longer apply, they hurt. To ignore or
downplay the majority of deaths covers them with
a shroud of ignorance, and the lack of attention
emboldens killers who fear coming out into the
light. We Western journalists in our relatively
safe homes and workplaces must pay attention.
Time and again I
have been told by journalists working in
high-risk countries that one big story or
editorial about their plight in a major
international newspaper would have more effect on
their government than a dozen headlines in the
local press. Governments, after all, are
responsible for the safety and security of all of
their citizens, including journalists.
In almost 90 per
cent of cases of journalist murder around the
world, no one is ever brought to justice. Far too
many governments simply shrug and look the other
way when another journalist dies because they are
troubled by few expressions of outside concern.
records of the Philippines, Mexico and Russia,
for example, are shameful and it surely is no
coincidence that these countries rank so high in
the league of the most murderous.
In a landmark
recognition of the growing problem of news media
killings, the U.N. Security Council in December
2006 passed Resolution 1738 on the safety of
journalists in conflict, and called for an end to
impunity for their killers.
more news media have died since then and impunity
One of the few
weapons journalists have in their hands to
protect themselves is publicity. We must shout to
the world whenever a journalist is killed and
demand justice -- and not rest until we get it.
And publicly and
repeatedly name and shame the nations where
journalists die just for doing their job.
This is the
least we can do in the name of the 1,000 dead of
the past decade -- and for the thousands more who
will go daily into danger on behalf of us all in
the decade to come.
If the news industry doesn't
attend to the killing of its own, then who will,
and how will the flow of blood be cauterized?
Rodney Pinder es
director de International
News Safety Institute, una
coalición de organizaciones periodísticas,
grupos de apoyo a periodistas e individuos
dedicados a la seguridad de los reporteros que
trabajan en circunstancias de riesgo. Este texto
fue publicado originalmente en el sitio de CNN.