2018 was one of the worst years for violence against journalists in recent memory. According to a report by Reporters Without Borders, at least 63 journalists were killed for their work. Journalists faced personal threats, as well as death threats to their families. CNN faced a bomb threat late in the year. Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in a Saudi Consulate in Turkey. Five journalists were shot at the Capital Gazette in the United States. Time devoted its 2018 Person of the Year cover to multiple journalists that were murdered.
Canada is ranked at 18 out of 180 countries for press freedom in the world, gaining four places because of new protections on the confidentiality of sources. Our American neighbours rank at 45, and Mexico ranks at 145. Comparatively, we as Canadians may believe that press freedom in our country is safe from threat, but it would be a mistake to think Canadian journalists are free from the impact of violence.
The 2018 World Press Freedom Index says everything we need to know with just the title: “Hatred of journalism threatens democracies.” The index goes on to detail how there is a growing “climate of hatred” against journalists perpetuated by political leaders in Asia, Europe, and America. The line between verbal hatred and physical violence is blurring, and it’s being encouraged at the highest political level.
Violence will never stop journalism. The truth will always come to light, and journalists will continue to do their work, even in the face of great adversity and danger. While the situation for journalists in Canada may be better than other countries across the world, we must strive to promote global press freedom, and we can never normalize violence against journalists.
There’s too much at stake to allow the truth to be silenced.