The United Nations chief said that the media is under attack in every corner of the world. Moreover, he urged all nations to stop targeting those who report the truth. World Press Freedom Day is anything but free. According to NPR, in 2022, there was a 50% hike in the killing of journalists.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was stunned when he heard about the data from the Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists section in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): Eight-six reporters died in 2022, or one every four days, up from 55 killings the previous year. He stressed that freedom of the press — the foundation of democracy — is under threat.
However, the nature of that threat is also worrying UNESCO officials. “When we started this monitoring many years ago, the main cause of journalists killings in the world was reporters covering conflicts, and now this is the minority of the killings,” UNESCO Head Guilherme Canela De Souza Godi said.
“Now, 90% of the journalists killed are local reports covering local issues, human rights violations, corruption, illegal mining, and environmental problems. And the perpetrators of this violence are not only state actors; they are organized crime, drug lords, and environmental criminals.”
Additionally, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay told CBS News reporters today face a “perfect storm.” He continued, explaining that news media is dealing with a financial challenge and attacks against reporters. And the aggression is not only physical but online threats. Women journalists are targets of online bullies who also conduct psychological and legal attacks.
Furthermore, a recent survey discovered that reporters covering protests in 65 countries had experienced verbal and physical assaults.
Other recent information shows that judicial systems increasingly harass journalists globally. One hundred and sixty nations continue to keep freedom of expression in their criminal codes, a loophole that can lead to reporters’ imprisonment.
For example, Russia detained Evan Gershkovich in March. The Wall Street Journal reporter is charged with espionage. However, his publisher Almar Latour emphatically denies the accusation.
Another example is the Asheville Blade journalists Veronica Coit and Matilda Bliss. According to the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), they were convicted for trespassing while documenting a homeless encampment sweep at a public park after closing on Christmas night of 2021.
Finally, FPF reported global imprisonment of reporters spiked to record-breaking highs in 2022.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
CBS News: On World Press Freedom Day, U.N. reveals “unbelievable” trends in deadly attacks against journalists; by Pamela Falk
PBS: Targeting of journalists and truth is threatening freedom, UN chief warns; by Edith Lederer
Inter Press Service: World Press Freedom Faces a Perfect Storm; by Farhaha Haque Rahman
Government of Canada: Advice for media workers