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The Most Dangerous Places On Earth For Journalists

When reporting from war zones, journalists are often putting their lives at risk. Which country presents the most risk?
Posted at 11:57 PM, Aug 12, 2014

War zones are clearly dangerous, and yet we still manage to get a glimpse of them while we sit safely at home thanks to war correspondents. 

But make no mistake, there's no invisible shield protecting these journalists — they're often in just as much danger as the soldiers and civilians they're covering in combat areas.

The dangers aren't always what one would expect either. In April, two AP reporters in Afghanistan were attacked by a police officer who opened fire on them while sitting in the back of a car. One of them, a German national, died. 

More recently, a CNN crew took flight with Kurdish and Iraqi forces delivering aid to Yazidi people trapped in northern Iraq. The helicopter ferried 20 Yazidis to safety while fending off Sunni militant anti-aircraft fire.

"I've been doing this job for more than 10 years, I have never seen a situation as desperate as this as emotionally charged as this."

Not only are these war correspondents facing the possibility of death, there's also the chance that they'll be thrown in jail on false charges or get kidnapped.

Between the threats of being thrown in jail in Egypt, kidnapped in Syria, or killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, one question comes to mind — which country is the most dangerous for journalists? 

The Committee to Protect Journalists, which has kept track of journalist deaths since 1992, found that for the past two years, Syria has been the deadliest country, and currently leads 2014.

Other countries that have been labeled by CPJ as the deadliest country for journalists have been Pakistan, Israel (including the Palestinian territories), Afghanistan and Iraq, which held the spot for six years straight between 2003 and 2008.

​Tracking the jailing and kidnapping of journalists is a bit trickier. Reporters Without Borders, a French non-profit organization, releases an annual index that gages press freedom based off questionnaires sent out to other NGOs and journalists.

Out of the deadliest countries listed by CPJ, Syria has consistently scored the lowest on the annual index placing fourth to last both in 2013 and 2012.

Those low scores most likely stem from the rash of journalist kidnappings that have taken place since the civil war started in 2011. David Rohde, a journalist who was kidnapped himself by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2008, wrote a piece for The Atlantic describing the Syrian kidnappings as "an epidemic."

"Throughout history, journalists have been expected to take risks. Our job is to bear witness to injustice and suffering. In Syria, neither is happening. The agony of average Syrians trapped between the government and jihadists continues. And it is now easier for the world to ignore it."

So, currently, war-torn Syria — home to militant group ISIS — looks to be the worst place for journalism. 

Which is why it was somewhat surprising to see Vice release a video series shot entirely inside ISIS territory. The five-part series follows a reporters three-week mission to document the militant group's inner workings.

​​The Huffington Post explained Vice was able to go to a local reporter they had worked with before and make use of his extensive contacts to get him access to the militant's group territory — though on a tight leash. 

As to why journalists are sometimes deliberately targeted for being jailed or attacked, many times it's to prevent them from doing their job — delivering facts, not propaganda.