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article imageOp-Ed: Why it's dangerous to be a journalist

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Apr 6, 2014 in World
In recent years, more journalists are being killed and imprisoned for exposing truths that powerful people want to keep hidden. Is the pen really mightier than the sword?
This week the world learned about the execution-style murder of Associated Press' Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus. She was sitting in a car in Afghanistan, next to her colleague, veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon, when an Afghan police commander shouted "Allahu Akbar!" and sprayed the women's car with bullets from an AK-47 automatic rife. Anja died instantly, and Kathy Gannon was treated for her 3 gunshot wounds and listed in stable condition.
Anja is the 32nd AP staffer to give his or her life in pursuit of the news since AP was founded in 1846. It is dangerous to be a journalist.
This was not the first Afghan violence to happen just before their upcoming elections. Nils Horner, a 51-year-old Swedish journalist, was killed by a shot in the head as he was reporting on Afghanistan's election in Kabul in early March. An extremist Taliban splinter group later claimed responsibility.
On March 21, four gunmen opened fire in a crowded restaurant frequented by foreigners in the Serena Hotel in Kabul, killing nine people. Among the dead was Sardar Ahmad, a respected 40-year-old Afghan journalist with AFP. His wife and two of their children also were killed, while their nearly 2-year-old son was badly wounded.
Many journalists have also been killed in Russia, especially for exposing government corruption. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 63 journalists have been killed in Syria since 1992. You can search the number of journalists killed in various countries since CPJ first started keeping track in 1992.
In Egypt, journalists have been killed, imprisoned, and even now stand trial. During the Egyptian Tahrir Square protests of 2011, a young, female TV reporter was viciously and sexually attacked by an Islamic mob. Lara Logan was not the first female reporter to be assaulted by men who feel they control outside spaces.
Turkey, whose police especially targeted journalists who covered the Gezi Park freedom protests, has the most journalists imprisoned than any other country. According to Reporters without Borders, 61 Turkish journalists were arrested in 2012. In Ukraine, several journalists were killed while covering the freedom protests in Kiev. Read their brave story on Digital Journal.
I was personally attacked by the Turkish police, along with a group of peaceful tourists on a sunny Sunday morning in Istanbul, during a lull in the Gezi Park protests. You can read the details of my story on Digital Journal and Yahoo. Turkish police tried to arrest me for a photo I'd published, but I had left Turkey just days before they showed up at my old apartment.
BBC honored Anja Niedringhaus by featuring some of her photos. You can also check out her Blog and be amazed at the sensitivity and insight her photography revealed. It's an outrage that she was assassinated just for exposing the truth.
It's difficult to come up with the total number of journalists killed around the world since people started keeping records about 200 years ago. At least 39 journalists in America have been directly targeted for their news coverage. Several were killed during the World Trade Center terrorist attack. Mexico has one of the highest number of journalist deaths, most unsolved (almost 100 since the year 2000). At least 70 journalists were murdered in 2013, most in the Middle East. How many more journalists will have to die, and what will our governments do to protect them?
Anja Niedringhaus  the prize-winning AP photographer who was killed on April 4  2014 by an Islamist ...
Anja Niedringhaus, the prize-winning AP photographer who was killed on April 4, 2014 by an Islamist in Afghanistan
Yahoo and other Internet sources
A handout released by Sveriges Radio shows Swedish journalist Nils Horner  who was shot dead in Kabu...
A handout released by Sveriges Radio shows Swedish journalist Nils Horner, who was shot dead in Kabul, on March 11, 2013
Mattias Ahlm, TT News Agency/Sveriges Radio/AFP/File
CBS foreign correspondent  Lara Logan.
CBS foreign correspondent, Lara Logan.
CBS screngrab
An injured reporter is escorted in Kiev  Ukraine
An injured reporter is escorted in Kiev, Ukraine
Reporters without Borders
AFP reporter Sardar Ahmad poses for a photograph with his daughter Nilofar and son Omar at the AFP o...
AFP reporter Sardar Ahmad poses for a photograph with his daughter Nilofar and son Omar at the AFP office in Kabul, on February 16, 2012
Joris Fioriti, AFP/File
Ak Party Prime Minister Erdogan places his banner next to Ataturk at the Kocaeli Book Fair in 2012. ...
Ak Party Prime Minister Erdogan places his banner next to Ataturk at the Kocaeli Book Fair in 2012. This is the photo that almost got me arrested in Turkey.
Journalists are targeted with tear gas during a Gezi Park freedom protest in Istanbul
Journalists are targeted with tear gas during a Gezi Park freedom protest in Istanbul
Turkish Protests News
The police attack vehicle that chased tourists in Taksim and shot pepper spray
The police attack vehicle that chased tourists in Taksim and shot pepper spray
Well-oufitted  professional German journalists hang back by a building in Istanbul during the Gezi P...
Well-oufitted, professional German journalists hang back by a building in Istanbul during the Gezi Park freedom protests
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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