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20 December 2018

RSF: Media Facing Unprecedented Levels of Hostility

The media is now facing unprecedented levels of hostility with violence and abuse of journalists reaching a new high, Reporters Without Borders has warned.

New figures from RSF show that 80 journalists were killed this year, up by eight per cent on last year, 348 are currently in prison, and 60 are being held hostage with murders, imprisonment, hostage-taking and enforced disappearances all increasing on the previous year.

“Journalists have never before been subjected to as much violence and abusive treatment as in 2018,” RSF said, adding that the social networks were being used as a platform for hatred of journalists to be amplified. .

The widely reported murders of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the young Slovak data journalist Ján Kuciak highlighted the lengths to which press freedom’s enemies are prepared to go. More than half of the journalists killed in 2018 were deliberately targeted, RSF said.

“Violence against journalists has reached unprecedented levels this year, and the situation is now critical,” RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said.

“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.

“Amplified by social networks, which bear heavy responsibility in this regard, these expressions of hatred legitimize violence, thereby undermining journalism, and democracy itself, a bit more every day.”

With the release of its latest World Press Freedom Index in April, RSF had already expressed alarm over an increased level of hostility towards the media encouraged by politicians, as well as efforts by authoritarian regimes to export their alternative vision of journalism.