Hostility Towards Journalists Increased in 2018 According to New Report


Photo Courtesy of Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders is a non-profit and non-governmental organization, and has been publishing yearly reports on the status of journalists around the globe, such as this annual worldwide round-up, for many years.

Maya Sabbaghian, Opinion Editor

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) recently released a report  that named the top five most dangerous countries in the world for journalists in 2018: (in order of ranking) Afghanistan (15 journalists’ deaths), Syria (11), Mexico (nine), Yemen (eight), India (six) and, for the first time, the United States (six).

“Four [journalists], as well as a sales accountant, were brutally killed when a gunman opened fire on the Capital Gazette newsroom in June in the deadliest single attack on the media in recent history,” according to Time magazine. “Two other U.S. journalists, a cameraman and TV anchor, were killed by a falling tree in May while covering a storm in North Carolina.”

Despite the increasing number of journalists’ deaths in the United States, the causes of the six deaths in 2018 were either by accident or at the hands of one unstable person who had access to a gun. However, the report clearly points to rising hostility toward journalists across the globe.   

“The hatred of journalists that is voiced, and sometimes very openly proclaimed, by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

Three hundred forty-eight journalists are being detained around the globe, compared to 326 in 2017, according to RSF. In addition, 80 professional journalists were killed on duty in 2018, a 15 percent increase over last year. However, the growing hostility simultaneously led to a rise of supporters in defense of journalists and their right to freedom of speech.

One of the most prominent examples this past year was the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in Saudi Arabia for his criticism of the Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman. Khashoggi’s murder spurred a global discussion on rights and protection of journalists.

In response to the rising hostility, Time magazine highlighted this growing discussion by naming Khashoggi, the Capital Gazette staff, Filipina journalist Maria Ressa and Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo as 2018 Person of the Year, calling them “The Guardians” for truth.

Even with the increasing discussion, many still are wary of the growing hostility.

“Amplified by social networks, which bear heavy responsibility in this regard,” Deloire said, “these expressions of hatred legitimize violence, thereby undermining journalism, and democracy itself, a bit more every day.”