The killings and kidnapping of journalists around the world continues to rise every year ,and not many people are talking about it.
According to a report from “The Guardian,” 115 journalists have been killed worldwide, and it’s unclear as to how many have been kidnapped. It’s well more than 30 in just two years.
The most dangerous countries for a journalist are Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Colombia and Mexico. Journalists are big targets in war-torn countries or a country that’s not very stable due to crime and drug cartels. The main people who target journalists are usually some sort of terrorist organization or Islamic militants. They do it not only for the publicity to their cause, but also for ransom money demanded from the country the journalist is from. If that government does not pay within a certain time, or not at all, it can be fatal for the journalist being held hostage. They’re beaten and sometimes tortured to death.
An American freelance journalist named Austin Tice was abducted in Syria in 2012 near the city of Damascus. He was reporting on the Syrian government when he mysteriously disappeared. No group claimed responsibility for his kidnapping. The last time he was seen was in 2015 on a 47-second YouTube video. He was badly beaten and forced to read a message in Arabic. He has been held captive for six years, and nobody knows where he is, or if he’s even still alive.
Although Syria can be dangerous, Mexico is just as bad. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in 2017 Mexico was ranked as the number one most dangerous place in the world for journalists. At the start of the year, there had already been seven deaths. One of those cases was a TV reporter named Salvador Adame, whose burned remains were found in the city of Nueva Italia. He had been missing more than a month. His family claims he was taken by an armed group. Before he was abducted, Adame had been covering a demonstration protesting the cancellation of government-funded programs.
Some war journalists are even killed on the battlefield in the middle of their report, sometimes being caught in the crossfire. Most terrorist groups such as ISIS see killing a journalist as a big opportunity. So every chance they get, they’ll shoot to kill. If it’s a foreign journalist, they are often rewarded for it.
If it’s an American or French journalist in Syria or Iraq, they would be targeted, because those two countries are part of the coalition fighting against the Islamic State and they see it as a small victory because they hate western media and think the journalist is biased toward their beliefs and ideologies. On some occasions, they are shot at more than the soldiers they are reporting with.
Journalists are not only targeted by armed groups or terrorists, but also by corrupt governments all around the world. An American journalist named Martha O’Donovan had been living in Zimbabwe. After comments she made about President Mugabe, she was arrested and now faces 20 years in prison for bad-mouthing the government, which is a bit extreme. I don’t think she should be arrested for doing her job.
People don’t realize that not every country has a First Amendment and Constitution like we do in the United States. We have the freedom to say whatever we want, even if it is toward the government.
So being a journalist abroad can be very dangerous, because your job is to tell the truth, no matter what. But when that truth is against a corrupt government official or terrorist ideals, your life is automatically put in danger. I personally have a lot of respect for journalists, especially those in war zones. They don’t carry any weapons. All they have is a camera and a note pad. They choose to put their life on the line. That shows courage and the dedication to getting the truth out to the rest of the world.
I think we need to have more awareness of the killings and kidnappings of journalists. When telling the truth becomes a crime, that’s a problem, no matter what country you are in.