In Pakistan Mr. Hamid Mir is a celebrity, a senior reporter and a presenter for the countryís Geo TV channel he is best known in the west for being the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Laden after the 9/11 terror attacks. On April 19th†Mr. Mir survived his latest assassination attack after a targeted shooting at his car left Mr. Mir with three bullet wounds. Mirís case highlights the dangers faced by journalists and reporters around the world, from those working in warzones to their editors and even television presenters; sometimes it isnít safe to make news.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (a New York based group focusing on the protection of media around the world) Pakistan is the 6th†most dangerous country for journalists to operate in. A relatively ineffective government coupled with an essentially autonomous secret service and a plethora of insurgent groups has combined to create a climate of fear and intimidation for many of Pakistanís journalists.
Iraq, the Philippines, Syria, Algeria and Russia all rank ahead of Pakistan in terms of danger to journalists. This diverse collection of states all share several factors that make, or have made them danger for journalists. In these five countries, journalists are most at risk if they are covering politics or warfare however, each country has its own unique set of factors contributing that endanger the media. The chaos in Iraq after the American intervention in 2003 was compounded by an ongoing Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict which continues to kill hundreds of innocents every year. In Iraq journalists have often be targeted to intimidate and terrify political opposition. The Philippines is certainly more peaceful then Iraq, but an insurgency in its southern islands coupled with ruthless politicking and corruption has seen many journalists murdered for asking the wrong questions. Syriaís case is fairly straightforward, its brutal and ongoing civil war has killed over 100,000 Syrians and with various militia groups supporting each side journalists are always at risk of becoming a target, regardless of whether their coverage is partisan or apolitical. Algeriaís place on the list is a holdover from the Algerian Civil War where a military coup saw the government pitted against an Islamist insurgency; both sides stand accused of killing journalists, particularly between 1992 and 1996. Russiaís place on this list stems from extreme corruption, a powerful criminal underworld, and an authoritarian government. Unlike others countries on this list, Russian journalists who cover crime and business are also frequently victims of violence.
All the listed countries are facing or have dealt with insurgencies or full-fledged civil wars. All of these countries suffer from corruption, and all but Russia have a government incapable of completely controlling their sovereign territory. These domestic problems tend to attractive media coverage, coverage which endangers journalists as political, business and militant groups target them either for favoring one side, or simply to intimidate and harass their opponents.
Hamid Mir is unlikely to be the last targeted journalist in Pakistan, nor is the danger to journalists in the listed countries to abate soon (with the exception of Algeria which has largely been able to bring its civil conflict to a close). Every day hundreds of journalists remain at risk simply for doing their jobs, itís not always safe to make the news.