Skip to main content

Journalists most at risk

By Simon Rushton, CNN
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
The number of journalists killed worldwide, 1992-2014. The number of journalists killed worldwide, 1992-2014.
Global toll: Journalists killed in 2014
Global toll: Journalists killed in 2014
  • Freelance journalists often most at risk in dangerous areas, journalist groups say
  • They don't have the budget for protection
  • But most media abductees are people working in their own country

(CNN) -- Media outlets around the world go to great lengths to protect staff but the journalists most at risk are freelancers and those reporting on conflict in their own country.

In the last month, the dangers faced by journalists were brought into the spotlight with the killings of two American freelance journalists.

At the same time, the Committee to Protect Journalists estimates at least 70 other journalists have been killed covering the Syria conflict; more than 80 have been kidnapped, and about 20 are currently missing.

Steven Sotloff disappeared while reporting from Syria in August 2013. His killing, which emerged via ISIS video Tuesday, came after a threat made by ISIS on a previous video showing the beheading of James Foley, who was also abducted in Syria.

"We are a volunteer army"

CPJ said: "We condemn in the strongest terms possible the murder of journalist Steven Sotloff. He, like James Foley, went to Syria to tell a story. They were civilians, not representatives of any government. Their murders are war crimes and those who committed them must be brought to justice swiftly."

The International News Safety Institute reports that last week four other media workers died -- one in Gaza and three in Pakistan.

INSI says the current high-risk countries for journalists are Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, Sudan, Chad Central African Republic, DRR Congo and Nigeria.

Despite the safety precautions available, such as hostile environment training and security teams, many freelancers are in the field on a budget, putting them at greater potential risk, according to the Rory Peck Trust, which gives support to freelancers.

Trust Director Tina Carr says: "We've assisting freelancers for almost two decades, and we've never seen a demand for our assistance like this before."

She adds that even the high-profile ISIS killing of a journalist grabs headlines, the majority of newsgatherers killed are working in their own countries; and who can't leave when it becomes too dangerous, or when their reporting is exposed.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:50 AM EST, Thu December 25, 2014
Author Juergen Todenhoefer says ISIS are "more dangerous than people realize."
updated 10:47 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
There's yet another new name for ISIS among those fighting against the terror group. Daesh.
updated 8:30 PM EST, Mon December 1, 2014
The FBI warns U.S military that ISIS are looking for individuals who may be interested in carrying out attacks on home soil.
updated 11:07 AM EST, Mon December 1, 2014
Iraq's Prime Minister says there is evidence of 50,000 soldiers being paid while inactive.
updated 6:17 PM EST, Mon December 1, 2014
Pentagon insider Ashton Carter is expected to be President Barack Obama's nominee for Defense Secretary.
updated 6:32 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
Wolf Blitzer talks to Rep. Ed Royce about the White House's new ISIS strategy that involves removing Bashar al-Assad.
updated 6:36 AM EST, Thu November 13, 2014
Just two weeks ago, Yasir was regularly strapped into an explosive vest and handed guns and a radio to stand guard at an ISIS base in Syria.
updated 5:49 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
How did three U.S. teenagers become radicalized? CNN's Pamela Brown reports.
updated 9:26 PM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Reza Aslan examines the appeal of ISIS and why the group is able to successfully attract so many recruits.
updated 9:18 AM EST, Mon November 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh takes a look at how ISIS is using media to desensitize children.
updated 7:33 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
A new propaganda video from ISIS features a Canadian ISIS member who died in combat.
updated 10:43 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Captured ISIS fighters tell CNN's Ivan Watson of the group's brutality.
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.