By Samuel Rubenfeld
Of the 44 journalists killed in 2010 for whose deaths a key advocacy group was able to find a motive, almost a third of them covered corruption.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, which defends media workers around the world, tracks and investigates the circumstances surrounding the deaths of journalists, and it created an interactive infographic showing where, how and why most were killed last year. Thirteen of the 44, or 30%, were corruption beat reporters. Other top beats of journalists killed included politics, war, culture and crime. Some of the beats overlapped, however, causing the aggregated percentages to go far over 100%.
A total of 79 journalists were killed in 2010, according to CPJ’s figures, including 31 deaths for which it hasn’t confirmed motives as well as four “media workers” who operate as support staff. A confirmed motive, in CPJ’s parlance, means the journalist was killed in the line of duty, save for accidents such as plane or car crashes.
That figure is down from 2009, when about 100 journalists died, 72 with confirmed motives. Pakistan was the deadliest country for journalists in 2010, with eight killed, while the Philippines was by far the deadliest in 2009, with 33 killed.
For example, Francisco Gomes de Medeiros, a Brazil-based radio and Web-based reporter, waskilled in October 2010 by a gunman on a motorcycle who was arrested a day later and said he did it in response to a report by Gomes on a 2007 armed robbery conviction, but prosecutors said in December the gunman was hired by a man serving jail time for a drug-trafficking conviction. Brazil ranks 69th out of 178 countries on the 2010 edition of the Transparency International corruption perceptions index.
Muhammad al-Rabou’e, a 34-year-old reporter for the Yemeni monthly Al-Qahira, was gunned down in February 2010 by five individuals after writing several articles about a criminal group. He covered corruption in the country for 11 years. Yemen is seen as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, ranking 146th on the Transparency International index.