115 journalists killed in 2016 – year begins and ends with mass casualties

A total of 115 journalists died in 2016 simply for doing their jobs, according to the International News Safety Institute’s (INSI) annual Killing the Messenger report of journalism casualties from around the world.

The year began and ended with mass tragedies involving media workers – in Afghanistan, Colombia and Russia. An attack in January by the Taliban on Tolo TV, one of Afghanistan’s largest entertainment channels, claimed eight lives in a direct assault on press freedom.

In late December, nine journalists were killed when a Russian military plane crashed into the Black Sea. It had been carrying members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, the official choir of the Russian armed forces to Syria when the accident happened, killing all 92 on board. The accident came less than a month after 20 journalists were among those killed when a plane carrying the Brazilian football team Chapecoense crashed near the Colombian city of Medellin.

“Last year, 115 of our media colleagues were killed doing their work,” said INSI director Hannah Storm. “Most were not international journalists, few had the support of major news outlets, and most died after fighting insurmountable odds, daily threats and constant pressures.”

Colombia, Mexico, Afghanistan, Iraq and Russia were the top five most dangerous countries for journalists this year, according to Killing The Messenger, which is compiled for INSI by the Cardiff School of Journalism.

Five citizen journalists lost their lives in 2016, all in Syria. There has been a marked decrease in the number of professional journalists reporting from this bloody and long-running conflict, leaving it up to activists and untrained locals to document and broadcast the atrocities being committed there.

Out of the 115 media casualties, 60 died in countries supposedly at peace such as Guatemala, where the government is battling drug cartels, India and Brazil.

The vast majority of casualties were local journalists, living and working where they died. INSI identified four cases where suspects were identified or arrests made, though this is a slight improvement on previous surveys.

“For all the darkness that seems to have pervaded this year, it is perhaps a small sign of hope,” said Storm.

Read the full Killing the Messenger report.

Watch the video.

See our infographic highlighting the shocking numbers.

Follow the discussion on Twitter and Facebook using #KTM2016.

Image by AFP