Slain journalist Steven Sotloff shortly before he is beheaded by an Islamic State terrorist..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
More journalists were killed in Syria and Pakistan in 2014 than anywhere else, the International Federation of Journalists announced on Wednesday.
Altogether, 118 journalists and media staff were killed during the year, 13 more than in 2013.
Topping the 24th annual list are Pakistan, with 14 dead media workers; Syria with 12; the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan, nine each; Iraq and Ukraine, eight each, Honduras, six and Mexico, five.
They died in targeted killings, bomb attacks and crossfire incidents.
The number of journalists lost to violence has been going up for a decade, Ernest Sagaga, the head of Human Rights and Safety for IFJ, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview.
“New extremist groups in the Middle East put our colleagues at a higher risk than in years gone by,” he said.
“In the long term, we are going to see fewer journalists getting into these tough assignments such as investigative journalism and war reporting,” lamented Sagaga.
For example, in Latin America, “young journalists prefer to cover soft issues like celebrities and social issues, because covering organized crime is too dangerous,” he said.
Another 17 media worker died as a result of accidents, diseases and natural disasters, bringing the total number of deaths to 135.
“The federation warns that these new figures are a reminder of the gravity of the safety crisis in media and renews its urgent call to governments to make the protection of journalists their priority,” the IFC said.
The federation cited “reckless attacks on journalists and media premises” in the Gaza Strip.
IFJ President Jim Boumelha said, “It is time for action in the face of unprecedented threats to journalists who are targeted not only to restrict the free flow of information, but increasingly as leverage to secure huge ransoms and political concessions through sheer violence.
“As a result, some media organizations are weary of sending reporters to war zones out of fear for their safety, even of using material gathered by freelancers in these areas,” he said.
The deaths in Latin America are attributed to organized crime groups that want to silence reporting on issues such as corruption and drug trafficking.
The IFJ said it increased its safety work and training programs for journalists in high-risk countries in 2014, and joined in a partnership with the Council of Europe to test new safety tools and maintain contact with journalists in dangerous areas.