The Top 20 Deadliest Countries For Journalists

For every foreign news story in 2011, there were journalists to report it. That put many journalists in dangerous situations. Guest host Jacki Lyden talks to Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists about the most dangerous places to be a journalist in 2011.

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JACKIE LYDEN, HOST:

For every foreign news story in 2011, there were journalists there to report it which means that many journalists found themselves in hair-raising situations this past year. There were wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, there was of course violent protests throughout the Middle East. But some of the most dangerous places for journalists in 2011 are places that didn't get as much coverage, the Philippines, Brazil and Peru earned spots on the list of top 20 deadly countries for journalists this year. The Committee to Protect Journalists published that list and here to tell us more about it is their executive director Joel Simon. Joel, welcome to the program.

JOEL SIMON: It's great to be on, Jacki.

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

So please tell me about 2011 overall. Has it been an especially bad year for journalists?

SIMON: Yes. Particularly, if you look at the number of journalists who are in prison. Our annual tally recorded 179 journalists in jail around the world. That's a 20 percent increase over the year before. And while the number of journalists killed has not gone up at 43, it's been a difficult and dangerous year.

LYDEN: Let me talk to you for a moment about the places on this list that are perhaps a bit surprising, or don't get as much coverage. For example, the Philippines rank number 5.

SIMON: Right.

LYDEN: Hasn't been in the news nearly as much as Syria, which on your list is number 20.

SIMON: Well, the Philippines is extraordinary violent and dangerous for reporters. And in fact, the most deadly incidence ever recorded by CPJ took place in 2009 in Mindinao, in a town called Maguindanao. And 32 journalists and media workers were killed in a systemic massacre. That's the most deadly incident we've ever recorded. And year after year there's a record of impunity for the killers of journalists in the Philippines, so it may not make the headlines year after year, but the toll of violence continues.

LYDEN: Joel, which beats are considered to be the most dangerous. Apparently, it's not necessarily war reporting.

SIMON: Well, the reality is that most journalists who are killed are journalists working in their own countries covering things like human rights violations and crime and corruption. And I think that what's important to do is sort of take a step back and think about the role that these journalists play not only in informing people within their own country, but informing a global audience.

The people providing this information are local journalists working in their country. They're freelancers. They're often online journalists. Sometimes they're employees of international news organizations. And they are the most vulnerable. They are the ones who appear, unfortunately, on this list of journalists killed, of journalists imprisoned, and they are the ones who most need our support.

LYDEN: That was Joel Simon, director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Joel, thank you very much for being with us.

SIMON: Thank you so much.

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LYDEN: You're listening to NPR News.

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