IN NUMBERS: Global threats to press freedom in 2018

Alex Evangelista

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IN NUMBERS: Global threats to press freedom in 2018
According to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, at least 75 journalists have been killed in the past 10 months in countries all over the world

MANILA, Philippines – Newsmakers have become the center of the news, as threats and violence against journalists dominated the headlines in the past few months.

Recently, the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi after visiting the Istanbul consulate shook the world. Almost 3 weeks after he was reported missing, Saudi Arabia admitted that the man was indeed killed.

Khashoggi’s case thrust Saudi Arabia into one of its worst international crises, with Turkish officials accusing it of carrying out state-sponsored killing and dismembering his body.

In Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced to 7 years in jail last September for violating the Official Secrets Act during their coverage of the Rohingya massacre.

The Philippines is no exception, as Filipino journalists have fallen victim to countless troll attacks and threats on social media daily. (READ: Media groups record 85 attacks on press freedom under Duterte)

The year 2018 has been marred by various threats to press freedom globally. Here are the numbers as reported by media watchdogs.

Killed in 2018

In 2018, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has tallied 75 killings of journalists all over the world. The breakdown below includes killings recorded in October:


journalists killed


citizen journalists killed


media assistants killed

These numbers only reflect cases of violence which have been clearly established as resulting from, or in connection with, journalistic work. The most recent case recorded was TV broadcaster Mohammad Salim Inghar who was killed in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan last October 18.

Afghanistan has the highest number of journalists killed this year at 13, followed by Mexico at 7.

The Philippines also saw 3 killings this year, following the consecutive deaths of reporters Edmund Sestoso, Dennis Denora, and Joey Llana last May to July. (READ: Philippines down 6 spots in 2018 World Press Freedom Index)

Imprisoned in 2018

This year, there have been more journalists imprisoned than killed. More than 300 journalists  have been jailed in relation to work and coverage:




citizen journalists 


media assistants 

Turkey has the highest record, with 27 journalists serving time in prison for doing their work. Amnesty International has dubbed the country as a “dungeon” for the press amid increasing attempts to censor the media.

Saudi Arabia comes second with 13 detained. RSF has noted a rapid decline of press freedom in the country upon Mohammad bin Salman’s appointment as crown prince in June 2017. The country currently ranks at a low 169 out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, and it is expected to worsen in the coming year.

More added deaths

A separate study by the independent organization Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) showed that at least 49 journalists have been killed per year on average from 1992 to 2018.

There have been 1,324 journalists killed, with motives confirmed (CPJ however did not specify what motivated the killings). 518 journalists have been killed for reasons still unknown. Of these numbers, 137 journalists killed were Filipinos, with the year 2009 being the deadliest due to the Maguindanao massacre.

The death toll from 1992 to 2018 also showed murder as the top cause of death from 1992 to 2018, comprising more than 60% of all deaths.




killed in crossfire and in combat


killed while on dangerous assignment

60 journalists have also been recorded missing since 1992, with the most recorded in Mexico, followed by Iraq, Russia, and Syria. These cases remain unsolved.–

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