Jail a Growing Risk for Freelance Journalists, Says CPJ

By: David Walker/Photo District News

The Committee to Protect Journalists says the number of freelance journalists now in jail around the world has nearly doubled in the past three years. Of 136 reporters, editors and photojournalists the CPJ found behind bars as of Dec. 1, 60 of them are freelancers.

The CPJ reported the numbers in its annual prison census, which it posted on its Web site today.

The watchdog group attributes the rising number of freelancers behind bars to two factors: the Web has enabled more journalists to work on their own, and major news organizations are relying more on freelancers as they cut costs.

?The days when journalists went off on dangerous assignments knowing they had the full institutional weight of their media organizations behind them are receding into history,? CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said on the group’s Web site. ?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.?

Last year, the CPJ reported 125 journalists behind bars. China has the most journalists in jail this year, a distinction it has held for more than a decade, the CPJ says. Iran, Cuba, Eritrea, and Burma are the other top five jailers of journalists.

The US is on the list of countries holding journalists in jail, for holding freelance photographer Ibrahim Jassam without charge in Iraq. But the CPJ gives the US credit for improving its record in the past two years of detaining journalists without charge or due process.

Nielsen Business Media

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