Committee to Protect Journalists Database

Previously, I had written on the incredibly tragic and needless death of Hiroyuki Muramoto. To continue that thread, I did some digging and found that theCommittee to Protect Journalists has been maintaining a running database of journalists killed since 1992 ostensibly to generate awareness for the importance of journalists and the need for a free and active press. Fortunately, the database is available for download from their website and they have online statistics available. Here is a monthly plot for the entire database:

The bloodiest month in the past 18 years was November of 2009. During that month a record 32 journalists were killed. 30 of these journalists were killed in the Phillipines during the almost not even heard about Maguindanao massacre in which armed men attacked a convoy carrying the 30 men and women and killed them all over a pointless political feud.

Iraq holds the record for country which has seen the most journalistic death, and Iraqi journalists themselves face the highest numbers of deaths. However, our good friends and trading partners Russia, Mexico, India and Pakistan all do an inordinate amount of killing in hopes of stifling free speech and information. Some is inspired by the state, some by private citizens and criminals. 763 men have been killed and 57 women for a total of 820 people in the past 18 years. It may be thought that many journalists are killed from being in the middle of a war zone, but the data indicates that more than 72% of journalists are in fact murdered. A good two thirds of these deaths go unpunished (524 out of 820).

I attempted some fancy time series analysis of the data, but could find nothing of interest, unfortunately. It appears that journalistic deaths, evaluated on their own, are a rather random event and follow no specific patterns.Thus, barring any more interesting analyses, I am presenting these plots of journalist deaths in Iraq, Russia, Mexico and India.

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About Pete Larson

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Nagasaki University Institute for Tropical Medicine

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