With fewer active conflicts taking place around the world this year, the number of journalists killed on the job in 2017 fell from 2016, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported.
And while that is certainly good news, it’s not quite cause for celebration.
This year was an exceptionally difficult year for journalists, particularly female journalists.
At least 42 journalists were killed this year, the organization reported, and though that’s fewer than last year — and much lower than the average of 70 journalists killed yearly between 2012 and 2015 — 19% were women, more than double the annual average of 7% and the highest number since 2009.
The greater percentage of female journalists killed this year may reflect an increase in the number of female journalists working in dangerous areas or covering more controversial issues, Lauren Wolfe, director of the Women Under Siege program at the Women’s Media Center, told the Intercept.
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Of the 42 journalists who died this year, many were killed while covering war zones. Iraq and Syria were the most dangerous places for journalists this year due to their ongoing conflicts, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported.
But outside of these war zones, the deadliest place to be a journalist in 2017 was Mexico, where six journalists were murdered in connection with their work to expose the truth, covering everything from social issues to corruption.
While the number of journalists killed in action was down this year, 262 journalists were imprisoned for their — a record high — according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Over half of these jailed journalists were detained in Egypt, China, and Turkey.
Of the total number of journalist jailed worldwide, 97% were arrested in their own countries and 8% were women, the organization found.
But the data doesn’t even tell the whole story, executive director of the International Women’s Media Foundation, Elisa Lees Muñoz, told the Intercept. The challenges that women in journalism face are not fully represented by the number of women arrested or murdered on the job.
“The kinds of threats that women [journalists] face are equally insidious and equally threatening to press freedom,” Muñoz said.
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Female journalists may be limited in the assignments they receive because of gender stereotypes and may experience sexual harassment, or be threatened with gender-based violence while working in the male-dominated field.
Press Freedom has appeared to be under attack in several countries this year. Turkey has cracked down on media outlets critical of its government. In recent years, the Philippines has emerged as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, a situation which worsened in 2017. India’s free press has also been met with adversity this year, the New York Times reported.
And the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media in August, expressing concern over the impact his statements could have on free press both in the US and internationally.
Press freedom — Goal 16 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals — is key to a world without poverty.
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