Syrian violence contributed to a sharp rise in the number of journalists killed for their work in 2012, as did a series of murders in Somalia. The dead include a record proportion of journalists who worked online. A CPJ special report
Syrian leaders tried to impose a media blackout on the country's civil war. They failed. As CPJ's Dahlia El-Zein reports, foreign journalists responded by smuggling themselves into the country, while Syrians picked up cameras and uploaded videos online. They all did so at extreme risk. (4:13)
Murder is the leading cause of work-related deaths among journalists worldwide--and this year was no exception. But the death toll in 2012 continued a recent shift in the nature of journalist fatalities worldwide. More journalists were killed in combat situations in 2012 than in any year since 1992, when CPJ began keeping detailed records.
Worldwide tally reaches highest point since CPJ began surveys in 1990. Governments use charges of terrorism, other anti-state offenses to silence critical voices. Turkey is the world’s worst jailer. A CPJ special report
New York, November 14, 2012--A Ukrainian journalist who was kidnapped in Syria in mid-October appeared in a short video last week pleading for her embassy to meet the demands of her captors, according to news reports. At least two other international journalists are believed to be held captive in Syria and the whereabouts of a third are unknown, according to CPJ research.
Here are the facts:
New York, October 29, 2012--A rebel group abducted a Lebanese journalist in the northern city of Aleppo on Saturday, bringing to at least five the number of international journalists being held captive by various sides of the conflict. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the journalists' captors to immediately release them and stop targeting members of the press who are covering the unrest in the region.
Syria and Libya were the main themes at the 19th edition of the Bayeux-Calvados Prize for War Correspondents, which took place this weekend in the historical city of Bayeux, a few miles away from the Normandy beaches where Allied forces landed in June 1944 to liberate Europe from the Nazi yoke.
New York, September 26, 2012--Iran's Press TV has reported that one of its correspondents, Maya Naser, was killed today while reporting on twin explosions and ensuing clashes in Damascus. The state-run station also said that its Damascus bureau chief, Hussein Mortada, was wounded in the same sniper fire and attributed both shootings to insurgents.
New York, September 21, 2012--Syrian security forces launched an assault Wednesday on the home of a cameraman who had recorded hundreds of videos on the country's conflict, burning the house and killing the journalist and three of his friends, local activists told international news outlets. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the brutal attack and calls on all sides to stop targeting journalists.
New York, August 30, 2012--Syrian authorities must immediately release U.S. freelance journalist Austin Tice believed to be in government custody, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, August 27, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the immediate release of Turkish cameraman Cüneyt Ünal, who appeared exhausted and bruised in a video aired today in which he said he had been taken captive while reporting in Syria.
Ünal, a cameraman for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Al-Hurra, was reported missing in the northwestern city of Aleppo on August 20 along with an Al-Hurra colleague, reporter Bashar Fahmi, a Jordanian national of Palestinian origin. Ünal makes no mention of Fahmi in the video clip.
New York, August 23, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the well-being of U.S. freelance journalist Austin Tice, who has not been heard from in Syria for more than a week, according to reports from The Washington Post and the McClatchy news service, two outlets for which he was reporting.
New York, August 15, 2012--Unidentified armed men on Monday kidnapped a correspondent for Al-Alam, an Iranian satellite broadcaster supportive of the Syrian government, the latest incident in a series of abductions and attacks against pro-government media in Syria, according to news reports.
New York, August 14, 2012--A series of attacks against journalists in Syria over the past two weeks have included the killing of at least three journalists and the kidnapping of several others, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Pro-government media have borne the brunt of the recent attacks.
The 17-year-old videographer Anas al-Tarsha regularly filmed clashes and military movements in the city of Homs in Syria, and posted the footage on YouTube. On February 24, he was killed by a mortar round while filming the bombardment of the city's Qarabees district, according to news reports. The central city had been under attack for more than three weeks as Syrian forces stepped up their assault on opposition strongholds.
The Syrian civil war is also a propaganda war. With the Assad regime and the rebels both attempting to assure their supporters and the world that they are on the brink of victory, how the facts are reported has become central to the struggle. Hackers working in support of Assad loyalists this week decided to take a shortcut, attacking the Reuters news agency's blogging platform and one of its Twitter accounts, and planting false stories about the vanquishing of rebel leaders and wavering support for them from abroad.
New York, July 18, 2012--Two Iraqi journalists living in Syria and covering the conflict in that country were killed on Saturday although news reports differed on crucial details. The Committee to Protect Journalists continues to investigate the circumstances of the deaths, which come amid reports of increasing violence toward Iraqis living in Syria.
New York, June 27, 2012--A number of employees for the pro-government Syrian television station Al-Ikhbariya were killed when the station was attacked by gunmen this morning, according to the official news agency Sana. Other employees were reported wounded or kidnapped, the agency said.
The Russian manufacturer promises results. The software can be used to control your own or, say, a customer's computer by making it a remote software client. Or it could be used for spying on others.
Fifty-seven journalists fled their country in the past year, with Somalia sending the greatest number into exile. Journalists also fled Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Rwanda--mostly for Kenya and Uganda. Exiles in East Africa must grapple with poverty and fear. A CPJ special report by María Salazar-Ferro and Tom Rhodes
Cairo, June 8, 2012--Five citizen journalists have been killed in Syria while documenting unrest in Damascus and Homs, according to news reports and local journalists. All of the deaths occurred over a two-day period at the end of May.
Because foreign journalists have been virtually banned from Syria during the uprising against Bashar al-Assad's regime, news coverage has relied heavily on citizen journalists and international reporters working with sources inside the country. Syrians who communicate with foreign news media run the risk of being threatened, detained, tortured, or even killed.
New York, May 14, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Syria's release of several journalists and press freedom activists over the weekend, but condemns the continued detention of at least nine journalists--and likely several more--including two journalists arrested without charge in the past month.
One big reason for the Internet's success is its role as a universal standard, interoperable across the world. The data packets that leave your computer in Botswana are the same as those which arrive in Barbados. The same is increasingly true of modern mobile networks. Standards are converging: You can use your phone, access an app, or send a text, wherever you are.
CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney counts down the 10 countries where the press is most tightly restricted. How do leaders in these nations silence the media? And which country is the worst of all? (4:03)
Read CPJ's report on the 10 Most Censored countries for more detail on how censorship works, and which countries were the runners-up.
As the Internet and mobile communications become more integrated into reporters' work, the digital threats to journalists' work and safety have increased as well. While many press reports have documented Internet surveillance and censorship--and the efforts to combat them--mobile communications are the new frontline for journalist security.
CPJ's Journalist Assistance Program supports journalists who cannot be helped by advocacy alone. In 2011, we assisted 171 journalists worldwide. Almost a fourth came from countries that made CPJ's Most Censored list. Eight journalists from Eritrea, five from Syria, six from Cuba, and a whopping 20 from Iran sought our help after being forced to leave their countries, having suffered the consequences of defying censorship at home.
New York, May 1, 2012--Syrian security forces harassed a credentialed camera crew from the British broadcaster Sky News as the team was filming an impromptu demonstration in Damascus today, according to news reports. Authorities briefly confiscated a camera and detained two journalists, the reports said.
New York, April 27, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Syria's continued detention of at least 13 journalists and press freedom activists--and perhaps several more--and calls on authorities to release them immediately. In many instances, authorities have not disclosed the health, whereabouts, or charges filed against the detainees.
After the Salvadoran online newsmagazine El Faro exposed a secret government deal with criminal gangs last month, its staff faced repercussions that illustrate the new and complicated risks facing journalists worldwide. El Faro's report, which said the government provided more lenient treatment of imprisoned gangsters in exchange for the groups' agreement to slow down their murderous practices, addressed one of the most sensitive topics facing journalists today--crime and its many interconnections with government.
After the publication of CPJ's March 27, 2012, news alert on the deaths of Naseem Intriri and Walid Bledi during a Syrian military attack near the Turkish border, a human rights defender and diplomatic sources raised questions about the journalistic credentials of the deceased.
New York, April 9, 2012--Syrian security forces shot and killed a Lebanese cameraman today as he was working in the northern Lebanese town of Wadi Khaled near the Syrian border, according to the journalist's employer and news reports citing Lebanese officials. The cross-border death comes on the same day that Syrian security forces fired shots into a refugee camp near the Turkish border, injuring several people, news reports said.
New York, April 2, 2012--A prominent Syrian videographer who ran the media center in Baba Amr where two foreign journalists were killed in February has been detained since Wednesday, according to news reports.
Ali Mahmoud Othman was initially held at a military intelligence unit in Aleppo and is believed to have been tortured, Paul Conroy, a photographer for The Sunday Times, said in an interview with the U.K.'s Channel 4. Activists were cited in news reports giving the same information. Conroy and other reports said Othman was transferred to Damascus over the weekend.
Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat is wielding his pen once more. According to news reports, the famous cartoonist, who suffered a severe beating in August, has regained 90 percent of the movement in his hands, which were deliberately targeted by his attackers before they dumped him on the side of a road.
New York, March 27, 2012--Syrian security forces shot and killed two freelance international journalists and wounded a third during an attack on Monday in the town of Darkoush near the Turkish border, according to news reports and a witness interviewed by CPJ.
Paulo Pinheiro, the chair of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, is a seasoned diplomat trained in the tradition of Brazil's foreign affairs ministry, Itamaraty, with its celebrated emphasis on impartial mediation, dialogue, and strong skepticism toward foreign intervention to resolve international conflicts.
New York, March 15, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists holds Syrian authorities responsible for the safety and well-being of Turkish journalists Adem Özköse and Hamit Coşkun, who are believed to be in government custody, and calls for their immediate release. The journalists were last heard from five days ago, according to news reports.
Weeks of sporadic protests seeking government reform burst into full-fledged unrest on March 15, 2011, when thousands of demonstrators gathered in four Syrian cities. Within days, authorities had cut off news media access to Daraa, a center of the unrest, beginning a sustained effort to shut down international news coverage of the uprising and the government's increasingly violent crackdown. As the civilian death toll has reached well into the thousands, according to U.N. figures, the last four months have taken a particularly dark turn for the press. Eight local and international journalists have been killed on duty since November, at least five in circumstances that raise questions about government culpability. Yet one year after the Syrian uprising began, killing the messenger has not silenced the message.
Journalists and technologists often speak different languages. But a Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit, Small World News, is bridging the gap with a new guide on the safe use of satellite phones. It comes at a critical time.
The group's Guide to Safely Using Satphones just went online, less than three weeks after the deaths of international journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik in Homs, Syria. Several journalists who worked in Homs suspected the Syrian government targeted the building where Colvin, Ochlik, and other journalists were working. If government forces indeed targeted the building, they could have relied on several forms of intelligence, including the tracking of journalists' satellite signals.
New York, March, 1, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the news that two French journalists injured in Homs last week have reached safety in Lebanon. "We are relieved that Edith Bouvier and William Daniels are now safe but are concerned that the Syrian government's assault on Homs has made it impossible to retrieve the bodies of our colleagues Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "We remain deeply concerned for the safety of all Syrian journalists who are risking their lives to report on the unrest across the country."
New York, February 27, 2012--A Syrian videographer who documented unrest in the besieged city of Homs was killed in a mortar attack on Friday, according to news reports. Anas al-Tarsha is the fourth media fatality in Syria in the past week.
I liked Rémi a lot.
Rémi was fragile, yet he didn't really try to conceal the fact. His fragility was his strength, a formidable one at that. Unlike so many journalists of today, Rémi was a true idealist, a rare mix of innocence and panache, compassion and bravery.
The Telegraph in London was the first to report that Syrian government forces could have "locked on" to satellite phone signals to launch the rocket attacks that killed journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, as well as many Syrian civilians, besides wounding dozens more including two more international journalists. Working out of a makeshift press center in Homs, foreign correspondents and local citizen journalists alike have been using satellite phones to send images of attacks on civilians around the world.
New York, February 24, 2012--Syrian authorities must heed the call issued by more than 60 countries today to stop the ongoing shelling in Syria, and allow medical access and safe passage to the wounded and dead journalists trapped in Homs, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
After the London launch of CPJ's Attacks on the Press at the Frontline Club this week, I had an opportunity to talk to a number of young journalists setting out to regions where reporters are frequently at risk. As CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon noted, these discussions took on an extra poignancy the next day, with the news of the death of Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik.
New York, February, 24, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists supports efforts by the international community to impose an immediate cease-fire in Syria to allow for the safe delivery of humanitarian aid and a cessation of hostilities. Two journalists injured in Wednesday's Homs attack require urgent medical attention and evacuation. The bodies of two more journalists have also been trapped in Homs since they were killed on Wednesday.
In her final hours, Marie Colvin gave this damning report to CNN's Anderson Cooper.
Bravery, generosity, and commitment: These are the three characteristics of Marie Colvin that have surfaced, again and again, in the many tributes spoken and published since the veteran Sunday Times reporter was killed Wednesday in the besieged city of Homs by Syrian forces.
In a video posted to YouTube by a Syrian activist, injured Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy speaks from Homs with his local doctor, describing his injuries and asking for humanitarian assistance, cessation of the shelling, and safe passage out. In English with some Arabic.
Click here for Edith Bouvier and William Daniels' appeal video.
Not since the worst period of the Iraq war, or in the Balkans the decade before, have so many storied journalists been killed or seriously injured in such a short period of time. Inevitably, the spate of deaths leaves many journalists asking questions about whether and how much they are willing to risk their own lives, and possibly the lives of others. Many experienced journalists might agree on one thing: the decisions one makes about risk are among the most intimate decisions they will ever make.
New York, February 23, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists demands that Syrian authorities allow safe passage for the evacuation of four foreign journalists trapped in the besieged city of Homs, along with the bodies of Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, two journalists killed in intense government shelling on Wednesday.
In this video posted to YouTube by a Syrian activist, injured Le Figaro reporter Edith Bouvier and Sunday Times photographer William Daniels speak from Homs along with the local doctor who has been treating them. They are pleading with the world to make the barrage of rockets stop and to allow Bouvier to get urgent medical care. They speak in Arabic, English, and French.
Click here for Paul Conroy's appeal video.
New York, February 23, 2012--Syrian authorities must allow urgent medical aid to reach journalists wounded in the government shelling of Homs on Wednesday, and they must allow immediate evacuation of the dead and injured, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
International journalists Marie Colvin, 55, and Rémi Ochlik, 28, were killed Wednesday during shelling of the besieged city of Homs in Syria.
Pictured are Colvin, an American reporting for the Sunday Times, in Cairo's Tahrir Square (AP/Ivor Prickett); Ochlik, a French photojournalist (AP/Julien de Rosa); Colvin with Libyan rebels in Misurata on June 4, 2011 (Reuters//Zohra Bensemr); Ochlik covering demonstrations in Cairo (AP/Julien de Rosa); Ochlik, who quit his studies at age 20 to report on Haiti and then covered many of the recent upheavals in the Arab world (AP/Lucas Dolega); both journalists (Sunday Times and AFP); and Colvin being treated by Sri Lankan army medical staff on Tuesday, April 17, 2001, at a field hospital in Vavuniya, northeast of Colombo (AP).
The world lost one of the only direct windows into the carnage in Homs, Syria, when Rami al-Sayed's video live stream went dark Tuesday. A citizen journalist, al-Sayed was live streaming the Assad regime's bombardment of Baba Amr and the brutal after-effects when he was struck by shrapnel and bled to death soon after, according to news reports. When outlets including the BBC World, SkyNews, and Al Jazeera aired his live footage, they highlighted how important this medium has become to journalism. And when the Syrian army took his life they proved how vulnerable it is.
Last night at London's Frontline Club, CPJ launched its global survey of press freedom conditions, Attacks on the Press. The topic of discussion was the safety of journalists covering conflict and the panel consisted of journalist and documentarian Jenny Kleeman, ITN safety guru Colin Pereira, and journalist and filmmaker Maziar Bahari, who was imprisoned in Iran following the disputed 2009 presidential elections.
New York, February 22, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the killings of three journalists who died today and Tuesday as Syrian forces continued intense shelling of the besieged city of Homs. The acclaimed international reporter Marie Colvin and the French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik were killed this morning when their makeshift press center came under fire, while local videographer Rami al-Sayed died while covering a bombardment on Tuesday. At least three other journalists were reported injured.
Even as trade and new systems of communication turn us into global citizens, the information we need to ensure accountability often stops at national borders. New platforms like social media are valuable tools, but the battle against censorship is hardly over. By Joel Simon
The danger of covering violent street protests has become a significant risk for journalists, alongside combat and targeted killings. Sexual assault, organized crime, and digital vulnerability are also hazards. The security industry is struggling to keep up. By Frank Smyth
The Middle East's political shifts changed conditions for journalists dramatically. The emerging trends favor free expression, but are filled with ambiguity and depend on the political configurations to emerge after the revolutionary dust has settled. By Mohamed Abdel Dayem
Murders decline, but fatalities rise during coverage of protests. Photographers and freelancers pay an especially high price. Pakistan is the world's most dangerous nation.
The regime enforced an effective media blackout in March, banning international journalists from reporting or entering the country and detaining local journalists who tried to cover protests seeking an end to Bashar al-Assad’s rule. In a widespread campaign to silence media coverage, the government detained and assaulted journalists, expelled foreign journalists, and disabled mobile phones, landlines, electricity, and the Internet in cities where the protests broke out. The regime also extracted passwords of social media sites from journalists by using violence, and defaced social networking pages, while the pro-government online group Syrian Electronic Army hacked social media sites and posted pro-regime comments. In April, Al-Jazeera suspended its Damascus bureau after several of its journalists were harassed and received threats. Three days after the brutal assault of famed cartoonist Ali Ferzat in August, the government passed a new media law that “banned” the imprisonment of journalists and allowed for greater freedom of expression. It then followed up by jailing several journalists. In November, cameraman Ferzat Jarban was the first journalist to be killed in Syria in connection with his work since CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1992.
New York, February 16, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply saddened by the death of New York Times foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid, a towering figure in international crisis reporting. Shadid perished following an apparent asthma attack while on assignment in Syria.
New York, February 16, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the arrests of 14 journalists, bloggers, and press freedom activists with the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM). The group has played a key role in getting out information about daily developments in Syria as foreign journalists are virtually banned from the country.
New York, February 8, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the death of Syrian journalist Mazhar Tayyara, a stringer for Agence France-Presse and other international outlets, who was killed by government forces' fire in the city of Homs early Saturday morning.
At the launch of Google+, Google's attempt to create an integrated social network similar to Facebook, I wrote about the potential benefits and risks of the new service to journalists who use social media in dangerous circumstances.
Despite early promises of relatively flexible terms of service at Google+, the early days of implementation were full of arbitrary account suspensions - particularly of pseudonymous users - and the appeals process was unclear. The result was a lot of early bad press for the service from the traditional "first adopter" crowd, a framing it has subsequently struggled to escape.
The killing on January 11 of a French TV reporter has sent a chill through the international press corps trying to cover the violence in Syria. Gilles Jacquier, 43, who was on assignment for the French public service channel France 2, was a seasoned journalist and the laureate of France's most prestigious journalism prizes. As a special reporter for "Envoyé special," France's equivalent of "60 Minutes," he had covered dozens of wars, from Kosovo to Afghanistan, and was considered one of the most professional French war correspondents.
New York, January 11, 2012--French TV journalist Gilles Jacquier was killed on Wednesday in the Syrian city of Homs, according to news reports. Jacquier is the first foreign journalist killed in Syria since the 10-month uprising began.
New York, January 3, 2012--A Syrian state journalist and a videographer who documented unrest in Homs province were separately shot and killed in recent days, according to news accounts. The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating the circumstances surrounding the two deaths.
Sign up for emailed alerts and newsletters to track global developments in press freedom. Be notified whenever journalists are attacked, imprisoned, killed, kidnapped, threatened, censored, or harassed. Or get a monthly newsletter to keep up with CPJ’s efforts to defend journalists around the globe.