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Deadly start to 2016 for journalists

Unusually high number of journalists killed so far this year

3 min read
Mel Hattie

Eighteen journalists have been killed in the last 42 days. If this rate continues, 2016 could be the worst in a decade for journalist fatalities.

The global well-being of journalists is monitored by sources such as Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (“CJFE”).

Data from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression covers journalists killed in the field from 1996 to present.

CJFE criteria for counting journalist fatalities:

  • The individual was reporting at the time of their death
  • The individual’s death can be reliably linked to a history of threats in retribution for their reporting
  • The individual is a foreign correspondent on assignment in another country and was in the situation which led to their death because of their work
  • The individual was targeted for their profession
  • The individual died while in detention for their reporting
  • The individual died in captivity after being kidnapped for their reporting

In the map above you can see a topographical representation of deaths. More rings in one location means recurrent deaths year after year in that country. Smaller rings are older years. Bigger rings are more recent years.

Seven of the 14 reporters killed in January died in a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city, on Jan. 20 that killed seven employees of the Afghan TV station, Tolo TV and injured 26 other staff members. The Taliban said they targeted members of Tolo TV specifically, saying the network produced propaganda.

A little over a week later, Hajji Mohammad Zubair Khaksar, a correspondent for Nangarhar TV and Radio network was killed just east of Kabul.

In an interview with the New York Times, Najib Sharifi, director of the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee, said of the Taliban in Afghanistan, “This is going to be a very bloody year for journalists, in my view… This is the beginning of a war against the media.”

In comparison, in 2015 Syria was the deadliest country for journalists with seven journalists killed throughout the whole year.

Journalists killed by country over the last 10 years

The five most dangerous countries for journalists in the past 10 years

  • Iraq (132 deaths)
  • Philippines (80)
  • Syria (76)
  • Pakistan (75)
  • Mexico (72)

Last August, Mexico City issued a law to help protect journalists. However, the three journalists killed in Mexico this year were all in Veracruz, which is largely regarded as one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist in Mexico.

Trends over the years


The current deadliest year on record for journalists, 2012, had an average of 8.9 deaths per month. At present, 2016 is on track to beat that.
caption The current deadliest year on record for journalists, 2012, had an average of 8.9 deaths per month. At present, 2016 is on track to beat that.
Mel Hattie

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About the author

Mel Hattie

Mel Hattie is a travel journalist from Canada's east coast. She's currently in the MJ New Ventures stream at the University of King's College....

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