/ 8 May 2011

Unsung reporters continue to die for freedom

Last Monday, the day dominated by Bin Laden’s death, was also something you may have missed: World Press Freedom Day. A certain symmetry? Perhaps, but also a moment to count the journalists’ lives lost, as collated by the International Press Institute Review for 2010.

Journalists killed: 102 (the second highest since the IPI started its death watch in 1997). Bloodiest country to try to cover: Pakistan, of course, with 16 dead. Most perilous world area to write and film in: Asia, with 40 deaths. But, in chilling terms, the region where blood flows ever more copiously: the Americas, with 32 killed, including 10 in Honduras and 12 in Mexico.

The journalists who die there aren’t from Fleet Street or New York. As Anthony Mills, the review’s editor, in Washington to publicise his findings, says: “Mexico is a front line littered with the bodies of journalists whose byline may not appear in the world’s most prominent newspapers, and who may not file reports for the world’s most prominent broadcasters, but who are no less heroic, no less committed to the cause of gathering and transmitting news to serve the public interest in a country facing a very real, extremely violent, and often deadly conflict.”

It isn’t just Libya or Iraq or even Afghanistan where brave men and women die to tell a story, then. In Mexico, the story is of drug lords and mob killings — and communities living in fear. Do these horrors ever get full weight, in the US, let alone Europe? No: but the courage on show, and the dedication to spreading the word, is constant, and universal. – guardian.co.uk