It’s been 10 years since Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s life was taken from him for the crime of being a newspaper reporter. Pearl’s grisly slaying was one of the first instances of a videotaped murder being posted to the Internet for so-called ideological reasons. The murder shocked and disgusted anyone who aspired to be a part of a civilized society.
After a 2002 trial in Pakistan, four men were convicted of kidnapping and slaying Pearl. Five years following the reporter’s death, his life story was adapted into a movie, A Mighty Heart, starring Angelina Jolie.
The murder shocked and disgusted anyone who aspired to be a part of a civilized society.
The brutality of Pearl’s murder grossly exceeded the norm in senseless violence. But for literally hundreds of reporters, the most unusual aspect of Daniel Pearl’s death is that anyone outside of immediate colleagues and family heard about it.
In 2011, as tallied by Reporters Without Borders, 66 journalists were killed worldwide, 1,044 were arrested and 1,959 physically attacked or threatened. The most lethal areas to cover were the Middle East (20 dead) the Americas (18 dead) and Asia (17 killed). The relative safety of Africa (nine killed) and Europe (two dead) is somewhat illusory and liable to sudden shifts in danger. All it takes is one threatened regime, a border skirmish, an internecine conflict, and the numbers of slain journalists will spike.
In 2010, Reporters Without Borders counted 57 journalists, and one media assistant, killed globally.
In 2009, 75 journalists and one media assistant were killed.
In 2008, 60 journalists and one media assistant were killed.
In 2007, 87 journalists and 22 media assistants were killed.
In 2006, 85 journalists and 32 media assistants were killed.
In 2005, 64 journalists and five media assistants were killed.
In 2004, 63 journalists and 16 media assistants were killed.
In 2003, 43 journalists and three media assistants were killed.
This brings the death tolls back to 2002, a year when Daniel Pearl and 24 other journalists, along with four media assistants, were killed.
In the first month of 2012, four journalists were killed, two in Syria, one in Somalia and one in Nigeria. Africa appears to be spiking.
Journalists should not be hunted. Reporters Without Borders is an international fact-finding and advocacy organization founded to fight censorship, to defend journalists and media assistants against imprisonment and persecution, and to improve journalist safety, especially in conflict zones. In the organization’s words: “Don’t wait to be deprived of news to stand up and fight for it.”