Journalists are dying to bring the world the news

The Charlie Hebdo tragedy showed the world the kind of threats media members around the world have to deal with. Picture: Greg Macvean

The Charlie Hebdo tragedy showed the world the kind of threats media members around the world have to deal with. Picture: Greg Macvean

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SYRIA continues to be the most dangerous country in the world for journalists – at least 80 have lost their lives reporting on the civil war since it began in 2011.

Despite that, reporters are still arriving in the war-torn nation to file stories on the atrocities that continue in the wake of a conflict in which more than 200,000 lives have been lost and a staggering 11 million people have been forced to flee their homes.

Journalists travel to this most dangerous place to shine a light on the suffering and human rights abuses which continue daily – and the spotlight of the world’s media is crucial – because in areas such as Aleppo, 97 per cent of the lights have gone out.

On World Press Freedom Day on Sunday we celebrated the bravery of media workers around the world who are often quite literally risking their lives in their quest to bring us the news.

When 12 people working 
at the satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo were gunned down in their offices in central Paris in January, the world woke up to the grim reality of the threats thousands of media professionals face daily.

But behind that story, which dominated international news headlines, are thousands of media professionals who are harassed, threatened, tortured, and unfairly jailed by governments and armed groups in an attempt to silence them.

When Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste was finally released by Egypt in February his first comment was that his two fellow journalists who remained in jail should be freed. They are still incarcerated.

In countries such as Mexico and Pakistan, owning a press card is so dangerous that many media professionals resign out of fear.

According to Reporters without Borders, 22 journalists and media workers have been killed and more than 160 have been imprisoned in 2015 alone.

Nearly 100 media professionals were killed because of their work in 2014.

These numbers may be nothing to celebrate but freedom of the press is something we should certainly be grateful for in this country today.

• Pauline Kelly, acting programme director Amnesty International Scotland

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