The Deadly Business of Reporting Truth

By Andy Lee Roth / Project Censored

Violence is the most basic and blunt form of press censorship. To kill or imprison a journalist is to silence the public’s source of news. To date, 33 journalists around the world have been killed this year and another 494 are currently imprisoned, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Put another way, thus far in 2022, on average, once per week somewhere in the world a journalist is killed for reporting the news.

Sometimes these cases make headlines, as was true in October 2018 when Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist who reported for the Middle East Eye and the Washington Post, was murdered by agents of the Saudi government, and in May 2022 when Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed – almost certainly by Israeli soldiers – in the occupied West Bank while reporting for Al Jazeera.

More often, however, the killing or imprisonment of journalists occurs without significant news coverage. As Project Censored has previously reported, attacks on journalists are a global phenomenon, which the establishment press in the United States often fails to cover adequately. Journalists working in the United States are not immune to violent assault or arrest either, as the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker meticulously documents.

August 2022 marks the somber anniversaries of two cases that epitomize the threats to reporters and the impunity (so far) of those who would silence them. On August 14, 2012, Austin Tice was abducted in Syria, where he was working as a freelance  reporter for McClatchy, the Washington Post, CBS, and other news outlets. Tice, a US Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, received numerous accolades for his reporting from Syria, including the prestigious George Polk Award for war reporting.

Tice is one of 43 journalists that RSF identifies as being held hostage in Syria, in addition to another 31 who remain imprisoned there….