Iraq war takes huge press toll


According to a report in The Financial Times on 17 August, the conflict in Iraq has become the deadliest of any modern war for the press.

The report is based on figures from journalist organisations.
At least 112 editors, reporters and photographers, and a further 40 media support staff such as translators and drivers, have been killed on duty in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
By contrast, the CPJ estimates, 38 journalists died covering Algeria’s conflict between 1993 and 1996, 66-71 died covering Vietnam, and 68 died while reporting on the second world war.

Last year’s death toll in Iraq was the highest the CPJ had recorded in a single country since its foundation in 1981.

The CPJ’s estimate counts only those deaths that its researchers can verify as having been caused by hostile action – such as deliberately targeting a journalist or when a reporter is caught in cross-fire – and excludes accidents such as car and aircraft crashes.

Other estimates put the death toll even higher. Reporters Without Borders, which campaigns for press freedom, calculates that at least 198 journalists and media assistants have been killed in the conflict and scores more have been kidnapped.
The International Federation of Journalists puts the number above 200.

The organisations agree, however, that the loss of life has been heaviest among Iraqi journalists. Security fears have prompted many US and European news organisations to restrict their reporters’ travel, leaving them heavily reliant on Iraqi reporting about events outside Baghdad.

According to the CPJ, 90 Iraqi journalists have died covering the conflict, compared with 13 Europeans and two US citizens. Many worked for Iraqi news organisations such as Aswat al-Iraq, a news agency, and Radio Free Iraq, but others appear to have been targeted for working for western news outlets.


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