Journalists most at risk

Story highlights

  • 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

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.

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."

"We are a volunteer army"
"We are a volunteer army"


    "We are a volunteer army"


"We are a volunteer army" 04:22

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.