This past decade has proven hellish for journalists. The war in the Middle East has claimed the lives of hundreds of reporters, some green to the practice and others long-renowned for their work. Yet 2009 stands in particular infamy as one of the bloodiest years for journalism.
According to a report issued by the International Federation of Journalists back in 2010, the death toll for journalists in 2009 reached staggering heights, with 139 slain worldwide.
I remember when I first realized that journalists were actually murdered for doing their jobs. It was 2002, and Daniel Pearl was all over the news. He was beheaded, after nine days of handcuffs and self-degradation and guns to the head, by a handful of Al-Quaeda leaders seeking the liberation of the same people who orchestrated the murder of thousands on September 11, 2001.
A video of his execution had been recently released. Everyone was hysterical. I was in disbelief. I couldn’t conceive someone beheading another human being, let alone taping it and using it as a bargaining chip. It was haunting for a ten-year-old. And to see that these murders have persisted–increased markedly–since this case proves even more disturbing than the first casualty.
I hope people remember the sacrifices that journalists have made for us. I don’t think enough of us do. I hardly ever thought about it before writing this post, because it’s far more comforting not to. But we should. We must. Their sacrifice is tantamount to any soldier on the battlefield, and their work far less revered. I only hope that this decade proves kinder than the last, that 2009 is but one, gruesome chapter before a brighter end.