Israel-Gaza war brings 2023 journalist killings to near-record high

The Torch is a weekly newsletter from the Committee to Protect Journalists that brings you the latest press freedom and journalist safety news from around the world. Subscribe here.

In a new report published today, CPJ documented 99 journalists and media workers killed worldwide in 2023. This 2023 global total is the highest since 2015 and an almost 44% increase from 2022.

Documenting 2023 deaths was especially challenging due to lack of official information and the high number of killings in such a short period in Gaza.

More than three-quarters of the journalists killed globally in 2023 were killed during the Israel-Gaza war between October 7 and December 31, the majority of them Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza. The conflict claimed the lives of more journalists in three months than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year, and CPJ is concerned that the Israeli military is deliberately targeting members of the media.

🗯️ “Journalists in Gaza are bearing witness on the frontlines,” said CPJ Chief Executive Officer Jodie Ginsberg. “The immense loss suffered by Palestinian journalists in this war will have long-term impacts for journalism not just in the Palestinian territories but for the region and beyond. Every journalist killed is a further blow to our understanding of the world.”

CPJ has raised concerns about the apparent targeting of members of the media by the Israel Defense Forces and is investigating whether a dozen journalists killed in the Israel-Gaza war were deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers.

Dive deeper 🔎

🎥 Watch: “We have yet to see any real accountability“

🗺️ Explore our interactive map of attacks against the press in 2023

➡️ View our database of journalists killed for their work since 1992

The report is available in seven languages: Français, Português, عربي, Русский, עִברִית, and Español.

Journalist killings over the years

Outside of the Israel-Gaza war, the number of 2023 journalist killings worldwide dropped markedly compared to 2022.

🔴 CPJ’s analysis of the data found that this was not an indication that journalism has become safer in various parts of the world. Divisive elections, rising authoritarianism, ongoing conflicts, and powerful and expanding organized crime networks create conditions that continue to put journalists in peril.

In some nations, these threats have become entrenched, resulting in the killings of at least one journalist a year for decades in Iraq, Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan, India, and Somalia.

Even in countries where fewer journalists were killed in 2023, journalists faced significant risks. In Mexico, killings of journalists fell from a record high of 13 in 2022 to two in 2023. But journalists continue to face attacks, harassment, threats, and abduction amid corruption and organized crime in the country, one of the world’s most dangerous for the press. There were no new government policies or societal shifts to explain the decline in killings of journalists—implying that 2023 may have been a statistical outlier.

Looking to the future, we must work collectively to ensure that journalist killers are brought to justice, that a culture of safety prevails in newsrooms, and that the public’s right to be informed is protected from those whose power is threatened by the scrutiny of reporting.

⚡️ Read our full report here.

What we are reading

Global press freedom updates

  • Drop in jailed Turkish journalists belies a long-simmering press freedom crisis
  • CPJ welcomes West African lawsuit against Senegal internet shutdowns; At least 20 journalists attacked, detained, or tear gassed in Senegal protests
  • CPJ condemns phone and internet disruptions, barring of journalists during Pakistan election; CPJ joins call urging Pakistan to reinstate internet access after election day suspension
  • Four Iranian journalists detained after newsroom raid, detention of 30 employees
  • Bangladeshi journalist Mohammed Emran Hossan killed in road crash after reporting death threat
  • Al-Jazeera reporter, cameraman, critically injured by Israeli drone strike in Rafah
  • Four Nigerian journalists charged with cybercrime, defamation over fraud investigation
  • Thailand charges two journalists for reporting on anti-royal vandalism
  • Malaysia hands two-year prison sentence to UK journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown
  • CPJ calls for transparent investigation into Ukraine surveillance of Bihus.Info journalists
  • New York police arrest, charge journalist Reed Dunlea during protest against Israel
  • At least five journalists injured during anti-government protests in Haiti
  • CPJ condemns Kyrgyzstan’s order to shut investigative outlet Kloop
  • Moldovan journalists Viorica Tătaru and Andrei Captarenco detained in Tiraspol

Do you have an Amazon Alexa-enabled device? Enable CPJ's flash briefing skill to stay up to date with the latest press freedom news from around the world.