Subdued messengers

Another World Press Freedom Day rolls along on 3 May. Seminars and rallies are to be held, prizes distributed and reports released, all to bemoan the lack of press freedoms and mourn the passing of journalist colleagues. The global spotlight is sought to be turned on what are termed the 'most dangerous places' for journalists – hotspots where the media is at risk when it does it its job well. But what do these figures really tell us?

The numbers of journalists killed in connection with their work vary even among watchdog groups. According to the Paris-based Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF), 60 scribes were killed in 2008, down from 86 in 2007. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), headquartered in New York, puts that figure at 41, down from 65 last year. The reduction in figures is mostly attributed to the changing (improving?) situation in Iraq over the past year. The International Federation of Journalists' (IFJ) figure, meanwhile, stood at 85, 33 of which were from the Asia-Pacific region.

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Himal Southasian