Although their tolls differ, the International Press Institute (IPI) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) agree that 2013 was the second deadliest year for journalists since the groups started keeping records.
At least 118 journalists were killed in 2013, according to IPI’s Death Watch. In 2012, the number was 132. Syria again led IPI’s list with 16 deaths, down from 39 in 2012. Iraq and the Philippines were next in 2013 with 13 deaths each, followed by India with nine.
IPI’s Death Watch, which began counting work-related deaths in 1997, lists journalists who died because of their work or while on assignment. Not everyone was murdered. For example, three Filipino reporters died in November while covering Typhoon Haiyan. The IPI says its figures reflect the hazards of the profession and that most of those listed lost their lives in targeted killings.
CPJ said it confirmed 70 deaths in 2013 where journalists were killed because of their work, down from 74 in 2012. The group was still investigating the cause of another 25 deaths.
The civil war in Syria, CPJ said, claimed at least 29 journalists in 2013, bringing the toll since the conflict began in March 2011 to at least 63, including some who died across the border in Lebanon or Syria. The risks in Syria include kidnapping. CPJ reports about 60 journalists were abducted at least briefly during 2013 and about 30 currently are missing. American journalists James Foley and Austin Tice have both been missing for more than a year.
CPJ reported that violence in Iraq returned to levels not seen since 2011, with 10 journalists killed. Unrest in Egypt led to a dramatic increase in deaths in 2013, with six journalists killed for their work.
"The Middle East has become a killing field for journalists. While the number of journalists killed for their work has declined in some places, the civil war in Syria and a renewal of sectarian attacks in Iraq have taken an agonizing toll," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "The international community must prevail on all governments and armed groups to respect the civilian status of reporters and to prosecute the killers of journalists."
Most journalists who die for their work are locals covering local stories, CPJ said. In 2013, nine out of 10 journalists killed were local.
The highest tolls since CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1992 were 74 deaths in 2012 and 2009, a year when the total was inflated by the Maguindanao massacre of 32 journalists and 26 others in the Philippines when 100 men with automatic rifles and machetes attacked an election convoy. As in too many murders of journalists, the Maguindanao victims await justice.
Year-end reports on journalists imprisoned worldwide were released by both CPJ and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Their counts diverged. A lone American involved in a complicated, troubling case was listed by both groups, but again they differed.
CPJ said the 211 journalists imprisoned as of December 1 was the second highest number since it began recordkeeping in 1990. The worst year was 2012, when 232 were held. Turkey led CPJ’s count for the second year, followed by Iran and China. Together, the three countries accounted for more than half the list.
RSF reported in mid-December that at least 178 journalists were in prison with the leading jailers repeating for a second year: China, Eritrea, Turkey, Iran and Syria.
The American on CPJ’s list was Roger Shuler of Birmingham, Alabama. Shuler, a former reporter for the Birmingham Post-Herald, is an independent blogger specializing in accusing Alabama Republicans with corruption and scandal. He was arrested on contempt of court charges for failure to comply with an October 1 preliminary injunction barring him for publishing certain stories on his blog.
The RSF cited Barrett Brown, a journalist based in Dallas who has written for The Guardian, Vanity Fair and The Huffington Post. He has been in jail since September 2012 and faces more than 100 years in prison on charges relating to a link he posted to leaked material. His case was reported in the October 2013 Bulletin.