Journalists in Danger Worldwide

Jamal Khashoggi's death

On 2 October, Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known Saudi journalist, entered into the country's consulate in Istanbul, where he was murdered. The gruesome and dramatic killing of the journalist has captivated media outlets around the world.

Bearing in mind that numerous journalists have been killed or imprisoned whose stories never captured the press’s attention, our team was motivated to begin our “data adventure” from the list of 1331 journalists killed (Motive confirmed) during the period between 1992 to 2018 on the website of Committee of Protect Journalists.

Reporting Dangerously Worldwide

So far this year (2018.12.11), at least 52 journalists have been killed around the world as a result of their work, according to the Committee of Protect Journalists; however, none has received as much attention as like the death of Khashoggi. From 1992 till now, there are 1331 journalists were killed in total.

word cloud related to 'journalists killed' on Weibo BY LI Mengyu Clio
Most dangerous countries

There are 186 journalists were killed in Iraq since 1992, the number in Syrian Arab Republic were 123.

Also, there are 308 journalists were imprisoned in China from 2008-2016, Iran listed the second place with a number of 204.

There are 344 death that the job related to broadcast reporter, 351 death related to print reporter, 219 death related to camera operator, and 196 death related to editor.

There are 630 death that the coverage includes politics, 559 death the coverages includes War, and 281 death the coverages includes to Human rights.

There are 434 death the suspected source of fire includes Political group, 238 death the suspected source of fire includes Military officials, and 209 death were unknown fire.

War and “Peace”

When it comes to the most threatening situations a journalist could be placed in, war may be the first response for everyone. On a global scale, Iraq and Syrian are the two most dangerous countries for journalists, in terms of the total number of journalists killed from 1992 to 2018.

However, what most people overlooked is the silence war that happening around the global. From 2000 to 2017, there are 2953 journalists imprisoned world-widely. On the same time scale, the number of journalists imprisoned is over three times more than journalists being killed.

Journalists Imprisoned and killed

In areas where there are active conflicts or endemic crime, the threat to journalists is well informed. Which other invisible yet ubiquitous factors have an impact on the deaths of journalists? As a profession of which responsibility is to respect for truth and for the right of the public to the truth, being a journalist is inextricably bound to the degree of freedom in the specific country.

Iraq and Syria

On a global scale, Iraq and Syrian are the two most dangerous countries for journalists, in terms of the total number of journalists killed from 1992 to 2018. Up to 186 reporters lost their lives in Iraq in the past 26 years; at the same time, there are 123 journalists killed in Syria.
Admittedly, both these two countries are torn by long-lasting bloody wars and known as zones of conflicts; however, when viewed this world map closely for the causes of journalists’ death, the real danger behind conflicts indicate some more concrete facts underlying the war.

Iraq war

Since the start of the war in 2003, the 2003 death toll surged to a relatively large number, compared with before. Such a high level of mortality continued until President George W. Bush signed the security pact with Iraq on December 14, 2008.

Syrian civil war

The same goes for Syria, where there is a sharp increase in 2012 due to the escalation of the Syrian Civil War. Even until today, war is still ongoing in Syria. Journalists, professional or not, are permanently exposed to sniper fire, missiles, or suicide bombers.


When shifting our focus from the number of Chinese journalists killed to how many reporters have been imprisoned in China, the finding is beyond reasonable expectations. That is China is the country with the largest number of reporters imprisoned from 2008 to 2016, up to 308.

Turkey start off from a low point, and have a rapid increase in year 2012, then it fell back. At year 2016, there is a major grow in the number of Turkey's imprisoned journalists, that is when the big breakdown happened.
China constantly kept stable and high-level performance in its numbers of journalists imprisoned from 2008 to 2016 and thus still stayed on top one.

Imprisoned cases

Despite the complexity and diversity of reasons why those journalists in China are imprisoned, maybe we could glimpse at the general picture based on the two below true stories.

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NAME: Memetjan Abdulla
CHARGE: Anti-state

Abdulla was targeted for talking to international journalists in Beijing about the riots and for translating articles on the Salkin website, Radio Free Asia reported. 

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NAME: LIU Xiaobo
ETHNICITY: Han Chinese
CHARGE: Subversion
SENTENCE: 11 years

Liu, a longtime advocate for political reform in China and the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was imprisoned for “inciting subversion” through his writing. He was an author of Charter 08, a document promoting universal values, human rights, and democratic reform in China, and was among its 300 original signatories.

For future journalists

“What you learned in class is sometimes the total opposite from what you faced in your real work... However, to obtain a press card in mainland China, journalists need to pass the press examination, which involves Marxismism. The responsibility of the media is to be the voice of the party and to safeguard the interests of the party. This is very contradictory, so you need to be well-prepared... When you enter the media after graduation, you usually start with front-line reporting, which means you will not be involved in particularly complex and sensitive events. You can apply what you learned into reporting, which is what you can do now.”
-- Dr. LUQIU, Luwei.