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The number of journalists killed while on the job rose in 2022

When political conflict erupts anywhere in the world, journalists and media teams pack their gear and bravely head out to report on it. The news is not something the public should take for granted, especially as the dangers have spiked over the last year.

Journalism can be an extremely rewarding profession.

It’s one that enables the writer to stay up to date with world events while becoming an expert on a myriad of subjects. Sometimes, the job can even take you around the world.

Many dream of being assigned to jobs that are in the middle of the action, reporting in conflict zones, or telling first-hand stories about what’s happening in the most obscure corners of our planet. This, however, can involve massive risk.

The most dangerous years recorded for press teams were between 2012 – 2016, during a surge in war zone reporting in Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen. As tensions fizzled out in these areas, deaths of media crews started falling around 2019.

But in the last year, growing political tensions have caused the sector to become noticeably dangerous once again. Last year was the deadliest year for press teams since 2018, primarily for those working in areas of political instability and conflict.

Of the 67 journalists who were killed in 2022, almost half were posted in Ukraine (15) Mexico (13), and Haiti (7). These are the highest number of media deaths ever recorded in these three countries.

Meanwhile, other regions have become hotspots for violence against reporters. According to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the remaining half of the 67 deaths occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Representatives from the CPJ say that without ‘radically different approaches’ from governments, such as the enforcement of protective mechanisms, the number of killings will likely be matched or exceeded in 2023.

This is because impunity for journalist killings is allowing numbers to continue climbing. According to the International Press Institute, killers in 9 out of 10 cases go unpunished by authorities.

Since 2000, there has been an average of 80 journalists killed every year while working in the field, with the total coming to 1,787 according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

‘Behind the figures, there are the faces, personalities, talent and commitment of those who have paid with their lives for their information gathering, their search for the truth and their passion for journalism,’ said Christophe Deloire, RSF’s Secretary General.

Meanwhile, many nations are cracking down on free speech on their soil, leading to violence and arrests of press workers. The number of journalists jailed globally rose by 13 percent this year, a result of harder media crackdowns in China, Myanmar, Iran, and Russia.

Deloire continued, ’In each of its annual round-ups, RSF has continued to document the unjustifiable violence that has specifically targeted media workers. Dictatorial and authoritarian regimes are filling their prisons faster than ever by jailing journalists.’

That said, reports such as these shouldn’t stop anyone from following their dreams of becoming a journalist. This work shines a light on some of the most remote parts of the world, informs public knowledge, and gives a voice to those silenced.

We can only hope that this global call to action sparks improvement of the protective measures needed to protect media teams and the essential work they carry out.