“Journalists and press freedom under attack.” Last Minute WORLD, CURRENT headlines and events

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced in its Freedom of Expression Report 2021-2022 that global press freedom has been limited compared to previous years, and the number of attacks against journalists and the number of journalists killed increased.

The report notes that from 2016 to the end of 2021, 455 journalists were killed in the line of duty, and the number of imprisoned journalists reached an all-time high.

The report indicated that risks and vulnerabilities in the work of journalists have increased worldwide in recent years. In many countries around the world, it is noted that new laws restricting freedom of the press undermine freedom of the press.

Growing pressure on press freedom and ongoing threats to the safety of journalists were said to endanger independent journalism around the world.

Some highlights from the report:

– The number of murders of journalists has increased to 55 in 2021 after a three-year decline. Murders of journalists have increased by 50 percent to 86 in 2022.

– It has been recorded that almost half of the journalists killed were victims after hours, some were attacked on the way, some in parking lots or other public places where they were not on duty, and some were killed in their homes. The report used the expression “Journalists are now open targets everywhere.”

– Journalists were killed in 2022 for covering sensitive topics such as organized crime, armed conflict, corruption, environmental crime, abuse of power and protests. More than half of the journalists killed were in Latin America and the Caribbean.

– Mexico ranked first with 19 murders of journalists in 2022. While 10 journalists were killed in Ukraine, 9 in Haiti and 16 in Asia and the Pacific, 11 journalists were killed in Eastern Europe. Despite progress over the past five years, impunity for the murders of journalists has been declared at 86 percent.

– In a survey, two-thirds of journalists said they feel less confident at work than before.

– Freedom of the press continued to decline around the world. Countries that are home to about 85 percent of the world’s population have experienced a general decline in press freedom over the past five years.

– Violations of press freedom in response to the COVID-19 epidemic have increased in many countries. Under the pretext of precaution, government repressions against the press and freedom of the press were intensified.

– Governments have limited freedom of expression online with their general policies and new laws. Since 2016, many countries have enacted or expanded a large number of laws that threaten freedom of expression online and impose disproportionate penalties.

– Internet access is restricted in many countries. The gaps between the bands are narrowed. Some social media accounts have been blocked. Governments restrict both freedom of expression and freedom of the press through such technical controls.

– From 2016 to date, at least 57 laws and regulations in 44 countries have been passed or amended in ways that emphasize restrictions. These new laws and amendments included disproportionate penalties that threatened freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Most of these laws were aimed at restricting freedoms on the Internet.

– In the last five years, the media has continued the trend to abandon traditional business models and broadcast more on the Internet. The number of social media users worldwide, from 2.3 billion in 2016, has risen to 4.2 billion in 2021.

– Advertising revenue quickly went to the big internet companies. Tech giants Google and Meta have captured about half of the world’s digital advertising spend. Newspaper advertising revenue has halved over the past five years.

– Discrimination against women working in newsrooms continued. Progress in closing the gender gap in news captions and news production has largely stalled.

– While both qualitative and quantitative research has revealed persistent biases in the representation of women in the news and the marginalization of women as specialized sources, women continue to be under-represented in news organizations at managerial and leadership levels, covering difficult news topics such as politics.

– Although women make up nearly half of healthcare workers globally, only 27 percent of healthcare workers mentioned in the media during the COVID-19 pandemic were women.

– Other threats to journalists continue to grow. Journalistic prisons have reached record levels. Online violence, threats and harassment against journalists encourages physical attacks. Journalists are forced to use self-censorship to avoid attacks.

– These threats seriously affect women journalists and journalists representing minority groups. 73 percent of women journalists who took part in a survey conducted by UNESCO and the International Center for Journalists said they had been subjected to violence during their work.

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