Washington: A record number of
journalists were killed in 2009, including a massacre of the
scribes in Philippines, making it the worst year for press
freedom, a New York-based watchdog said today.
In its latest annual report `Attack on the Press` the
Committee to Protect Journalists said massacre of 31
journalists and media workers in the Philippines pushed the
2009 media death toll to the highest level ever recorded by
The number of journalists in prison also rose, fueled
by the fierce crackdown in Iran, it said.
According to the report 70 journalists were killed in
2009 including 32 in the Philippines, nine in Somalia, four in
Iraq, four in Pakistan and three in Russia.
It said 24 other journalists were killed but the
motive couldn`t be confirmed, including six in Mexico and
three in Pakistan.
Iran, the report said experienced one of the most
vicious and widespread crackdowns on the press in recent
"More than 90 journalists were rounded up to suppress
dissent in the aftermath of the disputed June presidential
election," said Joel Simon, its executive director.
"When CPJ conducted its annual census of imprisoned
journalists on December 1, Iran still held 23 writers and
editors, a figure second only to China. It could have been
even worse," he wrote.
In China, Simon said the number of journalists in jail
has declined from a high of 42 in 2004 to 24 now.
"Traditional journalists who expose corruption are
more likely now to be fired than to be hauled off to jail. But
questioning the Communist system remains off-limits: Most of
the journalists in jail in China today are online freelancers
who do just that. Defending these opinion journalists is a
huge test," he wrote.
In his preface, Newsweek International`s Editor Fareed
Zakaria said the closure of many foreign bureaus and reliance
on freelancers abroad means that these stringers are taking on
"In this new environment, local journalists are going
to assume added importance and they will take on greater risk.
In increasingly violent Pakistan, local reporters face threats
from the Taliban and other militants, along with government
harassment and military indifference to their safety," he
"The Somali press corps has suffered devastating
losses. Nine local journalists were killed in 2009 and dozens
have fled the country. Western correspondents ? few of whom
venture into Somalia now no longer have sources to rely upon
for basic information," he said.