94 names added to Journalists Memorial at Newseum
WASHINGTON — The Newseum in Washington is adding 94 names to its Journalists Memorial, honoring newspeople who died on assignment last year and from six previous years.
Of the 88 journalists killed in 2009, 33 died in the Philippines. It was the deadliest country for journalists last year.
On Nov. 23, 30 Filipino journalists were killed when a convoy of vehicles carrying journalists, relatives and supporters filing election papers for a gubernatorial candidate was attacked. It was the largest slaughter of journalists in a single day. Their bodies were found in mass graves.
Christiane Amanpour, who is leaving CNN to anchor ABC News' “This Week” program on Sundays, honored the slain journalists yesterday, World Press Freedom Day. The ABC show is broadcast from the Newseum, a museum devoted to journalism and First Amendment freedoms.
Information on the journalists who died before 2009 did not come to light until recently.
So far, 13 journalists have been killed this year, according to the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders group, which hosted the panel.
“It's easier than ever to be a journalist, and it's easier than ever to get killed as a journalist,” said David Rohde, the New York Times reporter who spent seven months in captivity after being kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2008. “I think there is much less respect for journalists as a neutral party.”
Rohde said that the lack of clear front lines in many conflict situations was partly to blame for the increasing danger. This, he said, was coupled with an increase in the use of local journalists, as large news organizations scale back on foreign correspondents, and the rise of blogging and other social media as a news source.
Rohde said four out of five journalists killed last year were local journalists.
Emilio Gutierrez, the first Mexican reporter to seek political asylum in the United States, painted a bleak picture of journalism in his native country, where reporters must practice self-censorship if they wish to survive and where they “are more threatened by the government than by the criminals.”
The group says its list is made up of “40 politicians, government officials, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that cannot stand the press, treat it as an enemy and directly attack journalists.”
Newcomers to the annual list include Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Taliban overlord Mullah Omar and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.
Targeting China's Hu, the group said he had enlisted China's police and propaganda departments “to prevent any free press emerging.” It also says he refuses to release activists, bloggers and journalists detained during the 2008 Beijing Games.
Of Putin, Reporters Without Borders says: “Control is the key word for this former KGB officer: control of the state, control of the economic and political forces, control of geopolitical strategic interests and control of the media.”
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Associated Press: “Their opinion is a mistake. The mistake can be put down to bias against Putin, or a lack of correct information.”
Rwandan President Paul Kagame also appears on the list. Reporters Without Borders says he “denigrates journalists” and that authorities “constantly harass” two Rwandan newspapers and prosecute their editors.
Others listed include Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.