Wednesday 9 December 2009

Freelances and online journalists jailed in crackdown on media worldwide, says CPJ

Freelances now make up nearly 45 percent of all journalists jailed worldwide and the number of online journalists being held continues to rise, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports.
In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, CPJ found a total of 136 reporters, editors, and photojournalists behind bars on December 1, an increase of 11 from the 2008 tally. A crackdown in Iran, where 23 journalists are now in jail, fueled the worldwide increase.
China continued to be the world’s worst jailer of journalists. Iran, Cuba, Eritrea, and Burma round out the top five jailers from among the 26 nations that imprison journalists.
At least 60 freelance journalists are behind bars worldwide, nearly double the number from just three years ago. CPJ research shows the number of jailed freelances has grown along with two trends: The internet has enabled individual journalists to publish on their own, and some news organisations, watchful of costs, rely increasingly on freelancers rather than staffers for international coverage. Freelance journalists are especially vulnerable to imprisonment because they often do not have the legal and monetary support that news organisations can provide to staffers.
“The days when journalists went off on dangerous assignments knowing they had the full institutional weight of their media organisations behind them are receding into history,” said CPJ executive director Joel Simon. “Today, journalists on the front lines are increasingly working independently. The rise of online journalism has opened the door to a new generation of reporters, but it also means they are vulnerable.”
The number of online journalists in prison continued a decade-long rise, CPJ’s census found. At least 68 bloggers, web-based reporters, and online editors are imprisoned, constituting half of all journalists now in jail.
•The United States, which is holding freelance photographer Ibrahim Jassam without charge in Iraq, made CPJ’s list of countries jailing journalists for the sixth consecutive year.

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