Journalists in the firing line

Journalist Killed on Sunday Morning at Home in Nigeria

Mexican journalist killed inside newsroom in Chihuahua

July 23, 2009 – 60 journalists killed worldwide in 2009

Afghan journalist killed in ambush

Journalists who died in 2009 covering the news

Day after day, journalists investigate and file reports on issues they know they could be sued or killed for. Many pay the price.

“I got put in jail in Zimbabwe for simply doing my job. They said I was ‘committing journalism’ and I hope they were right.”

That’s how Barry Bearak of The New York Times described his arrest, brief detention and expulsion from Zimbabwe for trying to report from the country during the last elections. Bearak’s plight was widely reported in the global media and created a storm of indignation and protest in the international community. As many as a thousand journalists are arrested in the world each year, however, and the dramatic, often tragic, stories of the vast majority of them go untold.

At least 125 journalists are currently in prison serving significant jail terms – and more than 400 have been murdered in the past decade. To report on corruption, to challenge government policies, to investigate organized crime – these are just a few ways to get a one-way ticket to prison or the cemetery in dozens of countries.

Why do these journalists take the risk, voluntarily put themselves and their families in the firing line? Each man or woman’s story is different, but all are united in one idea at least: that without the right to inform and express ideas freely, one cannot demand any other rights.


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.


trail_blogTrail of Feathers Searching for Philip True is a “bold and heartbreaking book.”

From the book jacket:

In December 1998, San Antonio Express-News reporter Philip True vanished during a solo backcountry trek in western Mexico.  Five days later, his editor, Robert Rivard, was part of a small search party that, nearly miraculously, tracked a trail of feathers that had leaked from True’s sleeping bag to find his hidden grave.


About hopeseguin

Who am I? I'm still discovering just who I am, I suppose. A. Powell Davis writes that "Life is just a chance to grow a soul."

Posted on October 6, 2009, in Books, concerns, National News and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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