NEW YORK -– The horrific deaths of James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria brought worldwide attention to the dangers journalists face in war zones. The beheadings reflected an alarming trend in 2014 in which international journalists were increasingly targeted and killed.
There were at least 60 journalists killed globally in connection to their work in 2014, according to an annual report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization that advocates for press freedom around the world. The latest death was Afghan cameraman Zubair Hatami, who died Saturday from injuries he sustained in a Taliban attack.
Committee to Protect Journalists is still investigating whether the deaths of 18 journalists were related to their work. Reporters Without Borders recently cited 66 journalist killings in its 2014 survey. The difference likely results from each organization's methodology and the ongoing investigation of some cases.
Syria, mired in civil war since 2011, ranked as the most dangerous country for journalists for the third year in a row. Seventeen journalists were killed in the war-torn country this year, bringing the total to 79 in the conflict.
The organization found four journalists and three media workers killed covering the war in Gaza, five journalists in Iraq, and five journalists and two media workers in Ukraine.
While this year’s overall toll is down from the 70 killed in 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists found that international journalists were more frequently targeted this year than in the past.
“Reflecting in part the increasingly volatile nature of conflict zones in which Westerners are often deliberately targeted, about one quarter of the journalists killed this year were members of the international press, about double the proportion CPJ has documented in recent years,” the report concluded. “Over time, according to CPJ research, about nine out of every 10 journalists killed are local people covering local stories.”
As threats against international correspondents grew in 2014, the organization noted that “the overwhelming majority of journalists under threat for their work continue to be local.”