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December 29, 2010

Media Watchdog Says 2010 Dangerous Year for Journalists

by Lisa Bryant

2010 marked another difficult year for the media, with 57 journalists killed and a sharp rise in kidnapped journalists. Our reporter in Paris has more on a new report by media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders says the number of journalists killed in 2010 actually declined 25 percent compared to 2009. But the previous year was unusual because of a large number of journalists killed in the Philippines. Overall, says Reporters Without Borders managing editor Gilles Lordet, the trend is a grim one.

"We see that on the longer run, it's still a lot of journalists killed and it's still a lot of journalists killed in a large number of countries - because this year journalists were killed in 25 different countries," said Lordet.

According to the group's new report, Pakistan tops the list with 11 journalists killed.   Iraq, Mexico, Somalia and the Philippines are also on the list of  dangerous places to be a reporter. Overall, several journalists were killed in Africa last year.

While the number of journalists attacked or arrested have stayed about the same in recent years, the report notes that the numbers of those kidnapped has risen sharply - with 51 kidnappings reported this year compared to 33 on 2009.

Still, Lordet notes that the news is not all bad. Press freedom has improved in Niger - and in Brazil.

"We know that for the last four, five years, Brazil has really evolved in a good way," he said. "We've got good legal framework now and less violence."

Reporters Without Borders says the Nordic countries - Denmark, Sweden and Finland - are among the best places to be a reporter. Germany also gets high marks.

"When there is a democracy with stable political systems that is working most of the time, you've got press freedom and you have newspapers that are able to work in a normal way," said Lordet.

Still, Lordet notes some European countries are eyeing new restrictions on the media, particularly on the Internet.  Many other countries are also cracking down on media expression on the Internet, notably China.