Attacks on the Press in 2021

In 2021, journalists around the world faced dire threats to their lives and freedom.

The number of reporters jailed for their work hit a new global record of 293 in CPJ’s 2021 prison census, up from a revised total of 280 in 2020. Also so far in 2021, at least 24 journalists were killed as a result of their coverage.

Interactive map by Geoff McGhee for CPJ

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In 2021, journalists around the world faced dire threats to their lives and freedom.

The number of reporters jailed for their work hit a new global record of 293 in CPJ’s 2021 prison census, up from a revised total of 280 in 2020. Also so far in 2021, at least 24 journalists were killed as a result of their coverage.

Interactive map by Geoff McGhee for CPJ

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Journalists imprisoned in 2021

In its annual global survey, the Committee to Protect Journalists found at least 293 journalists in jail in relation to their work on December 1, 2021, exceeding the high of 280 set in 2020.

This map shows the countries imprisoning journalists in 2021.

Read about our methodology
 

Journalists imprisoned in 2021

In its annual global survey, the Committee to Protect Journalists found at least 293 journalists in jail in relation to their work on December 1, 2021, exceeding the high of 280 set in 2020.

This map shows the countries imprisoning journalists in 2021.

Read about our methodology
 

Imprisonments by country

Click on countries in the list at left to see journalists imprisoned in 2021.

 

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Imprisonments by country

Click on countries in the list below to see journalists imprisoned in 2021.

 

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Journalists killed in 2021

At least 24 journalists were killed due to their work as of Dec. 1, 2021.

Mexico remained the Western hemisphere’s deadliest country for reporters. Three journalists were murdered in direct retribution for their reporting; CPJ is investigating six other deaths to determine whether they were work-related.

Read about our methodology
 

Deaths by country

Click on country names in the list to learn about journalists who were killed there in 2021.

 

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Explore the data

Read more about the journalists who were killed in 2021, and explore CPJ’s data on journalists who were jailed because of their work.

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Methodology

Imprisonments

CPJ’s annual prison census accounts only for journalists in government custody and does not include those who have disappeared or are held captive by non-state actors. These cases are classified as “missing” or “abducted.”

CPJ’s list is a snapshot of those incarcerated at 12:01 a.m. on December 1, 2021. It does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year. CPJ includes only those journalists who it has confirmed have been imprisoned in relation to their work. Journalists remain on CPJ’s list until the organization determines with reasonable certainty that they have been released or have died in custody.


Killings

CPJ began compiling detailed records on all journalist deaths in 1992. CPJ staff members independently investigate and verify the circumstances behind each death. CPJ considers a case work-related only when its staff is reasonably certain that a journalist was killed in direct reprisal for his or her work; in combat-related crossfire; or while carrying out a dangerous assignment such as covering a protest that turns violent.

If the motives in a killing are unclear, but it is possible that a journalist died in relation to his or her work, CPJ classifies the case as “unconfirmed” and continues to investigate.

CPJ’s list does not include journalists who died of illness or were killed in car or plane accidents unless the crash was caused by hostile action. Other press organizations using different criteria cite different numbers of deaths.

CPJ’s database of journalists killed in 2021 includes capsule reports on each victim and filters for examining trends in the data. CPJ maintains a database of all journalists killed since 1992 and those who have gone missing or are imprisoned for their work.


A note on the map

The map reflects that CPJ holds Russian authorities responsible for press freedom violations in Ukraine’s Crimea. Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea led to de facto control of its media sphere, with Russian authorities jailing independent journalists, closing down media outlets, and forcing critical journalists to flee.