The Eighth Deadliest Country for Journalists By Krishna Pokharel
Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2010
The Eighth Deadliest Country for Journalists.“There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil,” wrote Walter Lippmann, one of the finest to come from the adversarial American journalism tribe, in his 1920 book Liberty and the News.
India is the eighth most dangerous country in the world for journalists.But will the devil spare the journalists?
In a report published today to mark World Press Freedom day, Reporters Without Borders names 40 such devils around the world that it calls predators of press freedom.
The devils are the “politicians, government officials, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that cannot stand the press, treat it as an enemy and directly attack journalists,” report says.
In India, the devil is mostly kept at bay because journalists here “take pride in their freedom and will defend it robustly in street protests or before the court,” a separate report maintained online by the world media watchdog says on India.
But the report on India also notes that the safety of journalists is precarious in some Indian states like the Naxalite-affected Chhattisgarh where “local reporters are regularly accused by police of being ‘Maoists’ and by insurgents of being ‘traitors’.”
The organization also notes that foreign journalists are not always welcomed by officials in India. There have been instances in which the visa applications of foreign journalists have been turned down for their coverage of social problems in India. Meanwhile others face excessive delays in getting press visas, according to the report.
Globally, 808 journalists have been killed in the line of duty since 1992 according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Iraq is the deadliest country. More than 140 journalists have been killed there in the last 18 years.
India is the eighth deadliest country in the world for journalists and 26 reporters have been killed since 1992. It’s a dangerous neighborhood for journalists in general: Pakistan is seventh with 28 killings, Afghanistan ninth with 21 killed and Sri Lanka is at thirteenth place with 18 killings of the journalists.
Among all the journalists killed in India between 1992 and 2008, 35% were covering politics, 27% were covering business and 23% were covering corruption issues.
India’s vibrant democracy needs its relatively free press to continue battling the country’s devils even if it’s a sometimes dangerous job because as Mr. Lippmann eloquently put it: “The quack, the charlatan, the jingo, and the terrorist, can flourish only where the audience is deprived of independent access to information.”