Report: US joins ranks of world's most dangerous places for journalists for first time

The U.S. was ranked one of the deadliest countries for journalists in 2018 for the first time in an annual report from Reporters Without Borders.

The U.S. ranked sixth among the most lethal countries for journalists, behind Afghanistan, Syria, Mexico, Yemen and India, in that order.

Six journalists were killed in the U.S. this year.

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Four journalists, as well as a sales assistant, were killed in June when a gunman opened fire at the Annapolis, Md. offices of the Capital Gazette. Two other journalists, a North Carolina television anchor and cameraman, were killed by a falling tree while covering a hurricane in May.

Overall, more journalists were killed, abused and subjected to violence in 2018 than in any other year on record, according to the report, which added that reporters are facing an “unprecedented level of hostility."

Murder, imprisonment, hostage-taking and enforced disappearances of journalists all increased compared to last year.

A total of 80 journalists were killed in 2018, with 49 murdered or deliberately targeted while 31 were killed while reporting. While the report partially blames bombings and shootings targeting the media in Afghanistan with the increase in deaths, 45 percent of those killed were not in conflict zones. 

In 2018, 348 reporters were detained and 60 were held hostage. China leads the world in detentions, with 60 journalists held in that country. Thirty-one journalists are being held hostage in Syria.

“Violence against journalists has reached unprecedented levels this year, and the situation is now critical,” Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Christophe Deloire said in a press release.

“The hatred of journalists that is voiced, and sometimes very openly proclaimed, by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” he added. 

The October murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who resided in Virginia, in Istanbul sparked international outrage. The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the hit as part of his crackdown on dissent. 

Reporters Without Borders has been heavily involved in the #ProtectJournalists campaign, which calls for the appointment of a special representative of the United Nations secretary general for the protection of journalists.