December 20, 2011, 5:30 PM
Information’s Deadly Price: A Dangerous Year for Journalists
By DAVID CARR
Rizwan Tabassum/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The funeral for the investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad in Karachi, Pakistan, on June 1. Seven journalists were killed in Pakistan, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
This is the time of year when you will read a lot of roundups of media news, but one thing that usually doesn’t make those lists is the high price of getting some of the toughest stories.
The Committee to Protect Journalists on Tuesday issued its annual report on journalists killed in the line of duty and the numbers were grim.
At least 43 journalists were killed around the world in direct relation to their work in 2011, with the seven deaths in Pakistan marking the heaviest losses in a single nation. Libya and Iraq, each with five fatalities, and Mexico, with three deaths, also ranked high worldwide for journalism-related fatalities. The global tally is consistent with the toll recorded in 2010, when 44 journalists died in connection with their work. C.P.J. is investigating another 35 deaths in 2011 to determine whether they were work-related.
The committee said that while murders where journalists were the specific targets, like those that have taken place in Russia, decreased in 2011, the number of deaths that have occurred during violent street protests like the ones in Egypt has gone up considerably. During a time of significant international foment, the streets are a dangerous place for everyone, but a press badge is just as often a mark on a target as a sign of the reporter’s status as an observer.
And covering a shooting war will always be dangerous, especially for those who carry a camera.
Eight journalists died in combat situations in 2011, most of them during the Libyan revolution. The victims included the internationally acclaimed photojournalists Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, who were killed by a mortar round in the western city of Misurata, and Ali Hassan al-Jaber, a cameraman for Al-Jazeera who was shot outside Benghazi by forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi. The Libyan conflict was “one of the truly televised revolutions,” said James Foley, an American video journalist for Global Post who was detained there in April. “Everyone was using a camera — and a camera is much more recognizable.”
The information and images gathered by these women and men will live on, but this past year, the world lost far too many of a rare breed: those who go toward conflict to bring back truth.
The Lens photography blog produced tributes to Mr. Hondros and Mr. Hethertington in April.