Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

A fatal job. How many journalists have to die?

By Judy Cannon - posted Tuesday, 5 May 2009

If you tell people that journalists are being murdered daily, they usually think of war correspondents working in conflict areas.

But you are not talking about war correspondents, though regrettably they too at times are killed. You are talking about media people who are being deliberately murdered. These journalists die because they are doing their job: their reports and comments have angered a government, the military, or some other local power which demands a stop to the flow of critical reporting. An order is given for the journalist to be eliminated. Increasingly, such executions are carried out in a street, in broad daylight, much in the public eye. This in itself is a message to other media people: Toe the line or else.

The lethal message is frequently delivered at the hand of gunmen on motorcycles, usually when a journalist is on the way to and from home. Other methods include organising a group of thugs to corner and beat up media people, break or seize their equipment, ram their cars, or await the victim on home ground. In some cases, the family home is invaded during the dark hours of the night.


Records of such deaths are faithfully kept by several international media organisations, together with Amnesty International. They strive to focus the attention of the world - and world leaders - on the blatant murders and attacks to get something done about them. Since January 1 this year up to the day of writing, April 29, the number of journalists killed totalled 23.

Figures published by the International Press Institute’s Death Watch show them as: Kenya 1, Madagascar 1, Somalia 2, Afghanistan 2. India, 1, Nepal 1, Pakistan 5, Sri Lanka 2, Russia 2, Iraq 2, Palestinian Territories 1, Guatemala 1, Honduras 1, and Venevuela, 1.

Other media organisations involved in keeping watch include the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters San Frontières/RSF) and the South East Asian Press Alliance. They also track imprisonments, detentions, non-lethal bashings, death threats, abductions, disappearances and the use of defamation writs to bully. A visit to their websites makes sober reading. Numbers and details provided by the different organisations occasionally differ somewhat, possibly because of varying criteria, but the message they collectively give is horrifying.

The International Press Institute Death Watch website publishes an annual list of those killed. The details are:


No. Killed




















The IPI Death Watch includes journalists deliberately targeted because of their profession - either because of their investigative reporting or simply because they were journalists - but also includes journalists who were caught in crossfire while covering dangerous assignments.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that in March 2009 at least 125 journalists were behind bars around the world, and at least 30 had “disappeared”.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) recorded that in 2008, in addition to journalists killed, 929 media people were physically attacked or threatened; 673 journalists were arrested; 353 media outlets were censored; and 29 journalists were kidnapped.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Judy Cannon is a journalist and writer, and occasional contributor to On Line Opinion. Her family biography, The Tytherleigh Tribe 1150-2014 and Its Remarkable In-Laws, was published in 2014 by Ryelands Publishing, Somerset, UK. Recently her first e-book, Time Traveller Woldy’s Diary 1200-2000, went up on Amazon Books website. Woldy, a time traveller, returns to the West Country in England from the 12th century to catch up with Tytherleigh descendants over the centuries, and searches for relatives in Australia, Canada, America and Africa.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Judy Cannon
Related Links
Statement by President Obama in honor of World Press Freedom Day

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Judy Cannon
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy