It’s the time for yearend reports to summarize the year’s events and, for the news industry, that includes the costs to the practice of journalism, not in terms of financial decline but primarily of the number of journalists killed.
The news industry is beleaguered amid challenges of financial sustainability, trust, relevance, and safety of its journalists and other media personnel. The last item on safety becomes urgent with the death of journalists and their family members in war zones. It is not surprising then that among the year-in-review reports that have been coming out was one on the number of journalists who lost their lives.
The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in its annual round-up that, in 2023, a total of 45 journalists were killed in connection with their work, 16 fewer than in 2022 which had 61 journalist killings. This is the lowest figure recorded since 2002, which had 33. In 2012 and 2013, more than 140 journalists were killed, mainly due to the wars in Syria and Iraq, the yearend report said.
In Gaza, the report said, at least 13 journalists have been killed because of their work as journalists since the war began between Israel and Hamas, a total that rises to 56 to include all journalists killed in the Gaza Strip, whether in the line of duty or not.
The lower number of journalists killed this year compared to 2022 was due to measures taken by the industry to keep media people safe. RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said: “On a global scale, it seems that the number of journalists killed in the course of their work or in connection with their work is in sharp decline, over a long period of time. The reasons? Security measures at news organizations, training and allocation of protective equipment, caution, the effects of the fight against impunity and actions by inter-governmental organizations. The work of NGOs is undoubtedly also having an effect…”
There are media development organizations working at protecting journalists in war zones. Among them are RSF, the International Media Support and Internews, an international media support nonprofit with the mission of “Supporting the truth and those who report it.”
In the Philippines, the most shocking was the killing of radio anchor Juan Jumalon while he was broadcasting live last Nov. 5. He was the second radio journalist killed in the Philippines in 2023 and the fourth since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assumed office.
Yearend reports summarize significant events and look at trends, mostly in numbers, and explain reasons for any change. The RSK report looked at the safety of journalists in 2023 and provided insight for the future and on what support organizations can do.
These reports can only be truly meaningful if they inspire discussion and action to improve the industry and ensure the delivery of trustworthy news, empowering everyone to make informed decisions about their lives.