CPJ’s focus is on press freedom violations, so we distinguish between those we are reasonably certain were killed because of their journalism [motive confirmed] and those who may have been killed for journalism or for another reason [motive unconfirmed]. If they were clearly not killed for their journalism, or died in an accident/weather event or because of illness – even if the accident was work-related – we do not include them in our database.
CPJ researchers investigate every journalist’s death to determine whether they were killed because of their work. We interview families, friends, colleagues, and authorities to learn as much as possible about the circumstances of each case. Details we investigate include whether the journalist was on assignment at the time of the killing, whether they had received threats, and whether they had published work that might have attracted the anger of government authorities, militant groups, or criminal gangs.
A senior team of CPJ editors and researchers assesses all cases where the motive might not be immediately obvious and agrees on changes to the categorization if new information emerges after publication.
Select the option for “motive unconfirmed” on our data landing page. While some filters, such as “job” or “suspected source of fire,” aren’t applied in the unconfirmed category, you can still search for the location and year of a journalist’s death.
We use rigorous methodology to distinguish between journalists who were killed because of their work and those who may have been targeted for other motives. For that reason, we don’t combine the totals in our published copy or in media interviews.
Yes, the confirmed killed cases are divided into three subsets correlated to type of death:
No, we do not include cases where journalists are clearly not killed for their journalism.
CPJ’s definition of media support worker includes translators, drivers, fixers, security guards, and administrative workers. CPJ’s database includes only media workers whose death is confirmed as work-related. These cases are not included in CPJ’s statistical analysis of journalists’ deaths.
A journalist is added to CPJ’s “missing” database when they have vanished without a trace, and no group has taken responsibility for their disappearance. Journalists known to be held by militant groups or other non-state actors are classified as “abducted.”
CPJ’s annual prison census is a snapshot of journalists jailed globally for their work as of midnight on December 1. If a journalist is in custody of a recognized state authority at 00:01 a.m. local time on December 1, they are included in the census.
CPJ includes journalists – reporters, editors, photojournalists, columnists, publishers – and in some cases technicians and board members or trustees, who are jailed by a recognized state authority because of their work or the reporting of their outlet. Journalists under house arrest are included in CPJ’s prison census if their movements and ability to report are restricted.
No. We update the data annually after we confirm who is in jail at midnight on December 1.
Committee to Protect Journalists
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Press Freedom Center
P.O. Box 2675
New York, NY 10108
Phone +1 212-465-1004
Fax +1 212-465-9568