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Jounalists Mark 2004 as Deadliest Year for Reporters in a Decade

  • Brian Purchia

Journalists and press freedom advocates marked the 15th annual World Press Freedom Day Tuesday by paying tribute to colleagues killed on the job. This year's observance was an especially somber one. The media rights group Reporters Without Borders says 2004 was the deadliest year for journalists in recent memory.

The Paris-based organization, Reporters Without Borders, designated 2004 as a "year of mourning." In its annual report on press freedom, the group said 53 journalists were killed on the job during the past year - the most in a decade. Another 107 were imprisoned.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the deadliest spot for journalists was Iraq - the scene of frequent battles between insurgents and coalition forces in 2004. 19 reporters and 12 of their colleagues were killed in Iraq last year.

Reporters Without Borders says since January First of this year, 22 journalists have been killed, including nine in Iraq.

Spokesman Jean-Francois Juilliard says he expects the trend to continue, "because more and more journalists are targeted in lots of countries, only because they wrote some stories denouncing corruption or denouncing some practice from politicians, no we are not really optimistic."

The report also cited new threats to journalists' freedom in places such as Bangladesh and Africa, where views about handling journalists may be different.

In Nairobi Tuesday, this television cameraman caught the ire of Kenyan First Lady Lucy Kibaki, as she reportedly berated the staff of the Daily Nation newspaper for several hours.

Eyewitnesses say Mrs. Kibaki was upset about a published story, which claimed she tried to stop a party next-door to her home, in honor of an outgoing World Bank official.

Reporters Without Borders did find some bright spots in its annual report. The advocacy group mentioned Ukraine and Krygyzstan, saying those nations' "velvet revolutions" have created greater freedom for the press.

But the report also expressed concerns about media freedom in the United States, where a number of reporters have faced legal problems for refusing to disclose confidential sources.

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