London: More than 700 journalists have been killed over the past decade for bringing news and information to the public but the sad part is that only one in just 10 cases of the 700 killings has led to any conviction of those responsible, experts have said.
According to professor Jackie Harrison, joint head of the University of Sheffield's department of journalism studies, the deliberate targeting of reporters is relatively new and raises questions about press safety and the impunity of those who attack them.
"The way in which journalism is seen in different parts of the world has changed," said Harrison.
"Journalists used to be more protected, but what's happening now is that they are deliberately being targeted -- and it's about information control," he lamented in a university statement.
Journalists themselves are getting killed because people are trying to silence them.
"You can just be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but what is relatively new is this singling out of journalists. These are attacks on freedom of expression and the public right to know," he informed.
It is a matter of increasing concern that journalists are being jailed and attacked around the world for exercising the right to freedom of expression.
Those who have died include Marie Colvin and James Foley in Syria and staff at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.
The United Nations (UN) has developed an "Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity".
However, professor Harrison points out there is concern that plans like these can only succeed if news organisations and the public are aware of them and engage with matters of safety.
In order to investigate these issues, professor Harrison is carrying out interviews with editors and senior journalists working at news organisations in six countries.
The target countries in the project are Pakistan, Mexico, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey, India and Bulgaria.
"The reason they have been selected is their low position on the Press Freedom Index 2014, which ranks the performance of 180 countries according to their treatment of journalists and the media in general," he noted.
Of the six countries, Pakistan is lowest ranked at 158th.
Currently ranked 152nd, Mexico is one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists with 76 killed between 2000 and 2013, and 16 disappeared since 2003.
"Our aim is to discover what journalists know about the UN action plan and if enough is being done to prevent people escaping punishment," professor Harrison emphasised.
"We also want to know what editors feel about the safety of their own journalists, given that many are being threatened and sometimes killed," he added.
The work of the Centre for the Freedom of the Media (CFOM) at the university will be highlighted at an event titled "Journalism in Danger" in Sheffield on November 11.
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