Number of journalists deliberately killed nearly doubles in 2018: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of journalists killed around the world in reprisal for their work nearly doubled in 2018 to at least 34 people, reflecting an increase in deliberate attacks on journalists in Afghanistan, according to a report released on Wednesday.

That was up sharply from 18 murdered for their work in 2017, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The jump this year reflects 10 reporters killed in Afghanistan, as well as four journalists slain in a June attack at Maryland’s Capital Gazette newspaper.

Overall, some 53 journalists died on the job worldwide from Jan. 1 through Dec. 14 — including those killed inadvertently in combat or on other dangerous assignments — a 13 percent increase from 47 deaths in 2017, said CPJ, a U.S. nonprofit that promotes press freedom.

CPJ cited insufficient international standards for journalists’ rights as another reason for the uptick in murders.

The report criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s refusal to blame the crown prince of Saudi Arabia for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, despite a CIA assessment that the prince had ordered the killing. The CPJ said Trump’s stand signaled a dangerous lack of leadership in the protection of journalists.

The spike includes the deadliest attack on the U.S. media in recent history, when a gunman who had filed a failed defamation lawsuit against the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland killed four journalists and a sales associate in June.

CPJ included the four slain journalists in its total of 34 reporters murdered during the year. The slain sales associate factored into a separate tally of seven media support workers who died on the job in 2018, down from eight in 2017.

Sixty-two percent of the journalists killed covered politics, which the report deemed the most dangerous beat.

Last week, CPJ reported that a near-record number of journalists around the world are in prison this year because of their work, including two Reuters reporters in Myanmar.

Khashoggi, the reporters at the Capital Gazette, and the imprisoned Reuters’ journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were featured last week in Time Magazine’s Person of the Year issue, honoring “The Guardians and the War on Truth.”

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Role of Media Facing Terrorism on Debate at UNESCO

Paris, Nov 20 (Prensa Latina) The challenges of the media in dealing with terrorism will focus the debates of a Conference scheduled this Tuesday at UNESCO, the organization stated.

'Terrorism has become one of the most complex issues for the media, presenting difficult ethical questions about reporting conditions, freedom of expression and security,' a statement said.

In that scenario, the text said, 'how can journalists report dramatic and emotion-laden scenes of violence without sensationalism, without playing with the incitement to hatred of terrorists and without reinforcing divisive stereotypes?'

This and other issues will be addressed during the meeting, with the participation of media professionals, representatives of the press regulatory authorities, researchers and representatives of victim associations.

The event is organized by UNESCO and the association that we called 13onze15-Fraternite Verite. The latter is a French non-governmental organization founded after the 2015 Paris terror attacks to support the victims.

The conference will include two roundtable discussions. The first session will address on how media coverage can promote security and respect victims of terrorism.

The second session will focus on how media coverage of these issues can promote tolerance and social cohesion.

France commemorated last week the third anniversary of the November 13, 2015 attacks, in which 130 people were killed and more than 400 were injured.

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Mexican newspaper closes after 27 years over lack of journalist safety

A regional newspaper in northern Mexico has announced it will shut down for security and economic reasons, shortly after one of its journalists was gunned down. The editor said he was not willing to have people pay for reporting with their lives.

The Norte de Ciudad Juarez newspaper announced that its Sunday issue would be its last, after more than 27 years in print. Editor Oscar Cantu Murguia informed readers of his decision in an editorial titled “Adios!”, published on the front page and on Norte’s website.

“Everything in life has a beginning and an end, and a price to pay, and if the price is life, I am not prepared for any more of my collaborators to pay it, nor am I prepared to pay it either,” he wrote.

The arrest was made at the Mexico border with the US. (FILE PHOTO) © Jorge Cabrera

Cantu cited the death of journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea last month as the tipping point for the newspaper. She was shot dead in the city of Chihuahua, which is located in the eponymous state on the US border. Juarez is the largest city of the state.

The journalist was shot eight times in her car by unknown gunmen, who left a note saying: “For being a loud-mouth.” One of her children was in the vehicle at the time, but was not hurt. Breach worked for the national newspaper La Jornada and collaborated with Norte.

Announcing the closure of the paper, Cantu said there were “neither the guarantees nor the security to exercise critical, counterbalanced journalism” in the current environment. He also cited financial concerns as a factor, without going into details.

Norte was one of five regional newspapers in Juarez, a city with a population of 1.3 million. Its print run was 30,000 copies from Monday to Thursday and 35,000 from Friday to Sunday, according to the Guardian. Norte told the British newspaper that its website would continue to operate for some time.

Breach was one of three journalists killed in Mexico in March. Two others survived attacks last month, with one seriously injured.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based group, 38 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992 with motives confirmed as related to their profession. Some 50 others were killed over the same period for reasons not clearly established.

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Journalists Square off over Credibility of Syrian Coverage

Canadian freelance journalist Eva Bartlett recently made headlines after blasting mainstream news agencies for relying on questionable and unnamed sources.

As the city of eastern Aleppo continues to be liberated by government forces, two journalists covering the conflict engaged in a heated debate hosted by RT, about the credibility of their sources and the West’s agenda in Syria.

Among other things, independent Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett questioned the legitimacy of the sources on which UK reporter, Dilly Hussain, and much of the western media, have based their reporting, including the Tweets supposedly coming from a 7-year-old.

RELATED: Regime Change Promoted by Corporate Media in Syria

“I’d...like to ask who are the activists that are Tweeting? Is (Hussain) referring to 7-year-old Bana Alabed, who Tweets in English? Not possible for her age(as) she’s not a native English speaker,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett also questioned Hussain’s reliance on the so-called White Helmets, a volunteer-based organization that claims to be impartial, but which she criticized after finding out it receives $100 million in funding from the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Are those your sources? Who are your credible sources on the ground?” she asked. “They’re funded by Western elements that want to topple the Syrian government.”

Her comments came about a week after she slammed her mainstream media colleagues during a press conference organized by the Syria Permanent Mission to the United Nations, for relying on secondhand reports from international organizations which she said are simply “not credible” and, in the case of eastern Aleppo, not even there.

Hussain, who repeatedly interrupted Bartlett during her exposition, was quick to dismiss her arguments, calling her a “grade one conspiracy theorist for the Assad and Russian regime.”

“Let’s be serious about this, if you’re rejecting and disbelieving on what’s actually happening on the ground...because some kind of regime, reconciliation group, is claiming that evacuation is being completed, then of course you’re going to accept this kind of propaganda,” Hussain responded. According to him, the Syrian government has not followed through in the agreement struck with opposition militants to evacuate civilians and fighters from the city.

“So I unequivocally reject those claims because we got video evidence, Tweets, from people there,” he added. “You’ve only been hosted by the regime, have not entered any rebel-held areas. And you can’t reject every opposition by calling them Al-Quaeda.”

Bartlett, who’s traveled to Syria several times since 2014, countered that the evacuation of thousands of civilians has been well documented. She then explained that her sources included Syrian and independent journalists, the country’s head of forensic doctors and even civilians who have fled Aleppo.

RELATED: Syria: UN Security Council Approves Aleppo Evacuation Plan

“This is documented. And these people are actually saying quite the opposite of what (Hussain) is saying,” she said. “These people said they have tried to escape on prior occasions (and) that they have been violently prevented by the terrorists...(who) were starving them and hoarding food.”

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution requiring U.N. monitors during evacuations from besieged Aleppo.

It called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “to take urgent steps to make arrangements, including security arrangements in consultation with interested parties, to allow the observation by the United Nations and other relevant institutions of the well-being of civilians; inside the eastern districts of the city of Aleppo.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said some 20,000 civilians had been evacuated from Aleppo so far.

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The lost journalists of 2016

In the past week, two of the most celebrated British journalists of their generation have died.

Adrian Gill, a reformed alcoholic who defied his dyslexia to become the greatest assembler of similes writing in English in his day, passed away last weekend.

And just this week Michael Nicholson, a giant of television journalism, also died.

Both men received glowing and deserved tributes from colleagues in their former abodes (The Sunday Times and ITN respectively), and indeed beyond.

But very many journalists - too many - around the world die without receiving the attention and coverage they deserve.

According to , an organisation that promotes a free press around the world, 74 journalists died doing their job around the world in 2016. The numbers were released this morning.

Seventy-four? In a profession that probably employs millions around the world? That's a tiny number, I hear you say.

Moreover, it's down from the previous year, when 101 died. So not so bad really.

Well, I don't agree. Journalists got a kicking in 2016, blamed for many if not most of the things people don't like.

A noble endeavour

"Mainstream media" became an implied insult. The new American president, Donald Trump, castigates titles from the New York Times to Vanity Fair, and uses Twitter to bypass traditional media altogether.

The reputation of journalism may be low around the world today, but at its best it is a noble endeavour which not only chronicles history, but accelerates it.

That is why powerful people have, throughout history, killed journalists they see as dangerous.

This year, according to RSF, three quarters of those killed were deliberately murdered. And the only reason the number of deaths is down is because many fewer journalists are reporting from some of the most ghastly war zones in the world today, from Syria to Burundi.

This leaves information black holes where tyranny and horror can go undocumented and unchallenged.

Over the weekend I read the RSF report. I also read Jeremy Clarkson's beautiful and touching tribute to his "closest friend", Gill.

It made me think that each of those 74 who died this year deserved the same amount of coverage at least.

After all, they died for their cause.

Many of them are pictured in the RSF report. They deserve our respect and solidarity, and we should remember them this Christmas, too.

I would encourage you to read the report so that next time you hear caterwauling about what awful people journalists are, you have 74 examples to hand for why they're not.

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RT crew comes under mortar fire near Damascus

RT correspondent Lizzie Phelan and her crew came under mortar fire close to the frontline in the town of Harasta, near the Syrian capital, Damascus. The crew was en route from Harasta to Jobar to film there. No one was hurt in the shelling.
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