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Remember the journalists who risk their lives for justice

Journalism lights up the world. It exposes injustices, clarifies murky situations, gives voice to the voiceless. It empowers and charms people, changes minds and offers the promise of a more fair world.

For these and other reasons it has always been a profession under siege. Because they threaten to undermine powerful interests with truth, journalists are regularly attacked, imprisoned, slandered or live in countries where mainstream media is hijacked by the powerful to shape and control public opinion through misinformation and propaganda.  

Journalists who enter embattled areas are especially vulnerable to attack, kidnapping or imprisonment.

1143 journalists have been killed worldwide since 1992. 79 journalists have died in Syria since 2011.

And yet, journalists still risk their lives to tell Syria’s stories to the world, to illuminate this cauldron of violence from within.  

Even in the US, the violence has reached journalists as two young reporters were recently gunned down on-air in Virginia.

The global crackdown on journalism also seems to be rising. Recently, three reporters from Al Jazeera were imprisoned in Egypt, two Vice reporters were jailed in Turkey and a Washington Post writer was likely imprisoned for 10 years in Iran--harbingers of a new era of self-censorship sweeping through countries.

Let’s also remember that journalism is extremely difficult. High-quality journalists have extensive, hard-earned connections, unmatched understanding of subjects and profound storytelling ability.

My worldview is expanded and sharpened by the hard work of journalists every day. My heros are journalists.

For that reason, I’m constantly disturbed by the abuse of journalists around the world, by the flagrant, unremitting attack on truth and justice.

The Committee to Protect Journalists does astounding work documenting the deaths and abuse of journalists and advocating for their protection.

Here are 5 journalists who were recently killed for challenging the status quo.

1) Rubén Espinosa Becerril

was a photojournalist who covered corruption, crime and activism in Veracruz, Mexico. He was active in a group looking to raise awareness and end the murders of journalists and had been threatened numerous times for his work. He was killed July, 31st after fleeing to Mexico City.

Mexico is the 10th most dangerous country in the world for journalists.

2) Jagendra Singh

was a freelance journalist in Shahjahanpur district, Uttar Pradesh, India. He wrote pieces critical of the local government, documenting corruption and crime. On June 1st, police barged into his home and beat and burned him. He died from his injuries on June 8th.

India is the 9th most dangerous country in the world for journalists.

3) Niloy Neel

was a freelance blogger who wrote critically of Islamic extremism and advocated for minority rights. The past year has been especially dangerous for freethinkers in Bangladesh.

He was hacked to death by extremists on August 7th, adding to a growing list of other bloggers who were similarly killed.

4) Abdullah Qabil

reported on local community affairs and the general situation in Yemen, an increasingly destabilized country for satellite TV networks. After reporting on a local tribal meeting opposed to the Houthi rebels, he was abducted. He later died in custody during an airstrike.

Yemen is the 16th most dangerous country for journalists.

5) Evany José Metzker

wrote about politics and crime in impoverished areas of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He had recently started investigating politicians in the town of Padre Paraíso, initially focusing on everyday actions and escalating to more serious issues such as a child prostitution ring. He was murdered sometime between May 13-18.

Brazil is the 11th most dangerous country for journalists.

The world darkens with each journalist who is killed. 

Brave voices are crushed and aspiring journalists may be frightened away from pushing boundaries or pushed out of the profession altogether.

Journalists are essential in the quest to end poverty in all of its manifestations. They describe the hardships faced by people living in remote, overlooked areas, they expose the corruption of governments and criminal organizations, and they inspire the world by bringing news of the achievements made by humanity in the fight to end poverty.

Without journalists, the reign of tyrants would proceed unchecked. Without journalists, the hardships faced by the world’s poor would remain hidden. Without journalists, humanity’s achievements would inspire far less.

The world must remember these brave men and women, and provide them with significantly more protection.

Crimes against journalism have to be rigorously punished so that fear is no longer a constant element for those working in volatile countries.

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