US among deadliest countries for journalists in 2018

The first half of 2018 was marked by mass attacks against journalists in Afghanistan and the United States, bringing the total number of media casualties to 44 in the first six months of the year.

Mass atrocities against journalists have been a terrible feature of 2018. Nine media workers lost their lives in Kabul in April when a suicide bomber disguised as a journalist blew himself up. A total of 11 media workers died in Afghanistan from January to June making it the deadliest country for journalists. 

Five media workers were killed in the US state of Maryland when a man stormed the offices of a local newspaper armed with a shotgun. This attack made the US the second most dangerous country for journalists in the first half of the year, with seven casualties in total.

“It's unusual that the US is in the top five most dangerous countries for journalists, but brave journalists have long been the recipients of cowardly acts that seek to silence them and prevent them from shining a light in the darkest corners of their own societies,” said Hannah Storm, INSI Director.

“However, wherever these attacks happens, it is a tragedy that we need to call out. We need to join together - as members of the press and members of the public - to condemn these crimes and to support our courageous colleagues who show us how vital journalism is to democracy.”

Mexico, India and Syria rounded out the top five deadly countries, according to statistics compiled for INSI by Cardiff School of Journalism.

Out of the 44 media casualties, 24 men and women died in countries supposedly at peace such as Brazil and the Philippines.

The vast majority of casualties (41) were local journalists, living and working where they died. Most were shot by unknown assailants.

In addition to the 44 casualties, two citizen journalists lost their lives – in Syria and Yemen – where their work is vital as access for professional media workers continues to be difficult and dangerous.

INSI identified only 10 cases where suspects were identified, arrests made or legal proceedings initiated. Two men have been detained on suspicion of shooting Ángel Gahona, a Nicaraguan investigative journalist who was shot while live streaming protests near his home. However, Gahona’s family believe he was actually killed by the police.

Image by AFP