Record number of journalists killed in 2009
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Last Updated: Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 23:42
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 it.

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 memory.

"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 added risks.

"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 said.

"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.


First Published: Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 23:42

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