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The Hazards Behind the Headlines

Western journalists have always been prepared for the risks they will encounter when they travel abroad to cover active war zones, natural disasters, and other crises. But now journalists everywhere must navigate dangers at home, too, owing to new physical, psychological, and digital threats to the profession.

LONDON – Not too long ago, the only journalists working in conflict areas who might be afforded protection were those working for wealthy, predominantly Western news organizations. These journalists would attend expensive courses run by former special forces personnel, who trained them to navigate hostile environments. They would be furnished with flak jackets and helmets, and given first aid kits.

But journalists elsewhere have rarely benefited from this culture of safety. From Mexico and Brazil to Pakistan and Somalia, journalists are often murdered with impunity. And more often than not, when the messenger is silenced, so is the message.

For the last 15 years, the International News Safety Institute has been collating a list of journalists who have died on the job. What we have found is shocking: for every ten reporters killed, nine died while on assignment in their home country. Countless others have had to abandon their homes, jobs, and countries; and those who do stay often live in constant fear for their safety.

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