BY all appearances, the significant decline in journalist killings around the world this year — the lowest level it has been in 20 years — is an encouraging development. However, as highlighted in a recent statement by the International Press Institute, this is little more than a hollow victory when seen in the context of emerging trends in the news media today.
The IPI has expressed concerns that the drop in the number of journalists murdered in 2019 — 47 killings, as compared to 79 the year before — is, in fact, likely the direct result of an increasing use of non-lethal intimidatory tactics to attack independent journalists.
Arrests and newsroom raids from countries with authoritarian governments such as Egypt and Turkey to ostensibly open democracies such as Australia; populist rhetoric and vilification campaigns against journalists in Brazil, Pakistan and the Philippines; oppressive laws enacted in the name of national security but abused to suppress information in Nigeria and Singapore — these are just some of ways in which press censorship has evolved.
The current global press crisis should alarm all those who seek free and open societies, as it is also a manifestation of the deeper danger to democracy.