It did not happen if it’s not high-profile: A general overview of the phenomenon regarding assassination of journalists.

Assassination of journalists are no recent phenomena. Sacrificed for promoting what is perceived as “the truth” by the general public, the professional life of a journalist can swiftly become a trial of survival if the given journalist does not comply to the strict requests of a powerful governmental body. Given the undeniable truth that words “Journalist Found Dead” have become a rather frequent occurrence on our screens, it leads many to believe that the specific information undisclosed by certain governments may bring about curiosity both from professionals and the general public.

Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-profit organization founded in 1981, although seems to have provided a very good overview of unfortunate cases of journalist assassinations, it can be argued that it is flawed. Upon visiting pages of certain countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, Iran and etc., the numbers of assassinated journalists are, simply put, almost nonexistent. A hypothesis can be drawn here as to argue that the main reason the numbers are “too good to be true” is because not every assassination is high-profile. To further hypothesize, it can be said that if Jamal Khashoggi did not work for the Washington Post and instead was a rather independent researcher attempting to compromise the Saudi monarchical corruption schemes, his tragic “disappearance” would much less likely to be reported.

Image Courtesy of march_car_10 via © Flickr, 2018, some rights reserved

Europe has had its own instances of assassinated journalists, though political assassinations and European liberal democracies are everything but synonymous. However, the assassination phenomenon has played a role in pointing out that it happens everywhere around the globe without exceptions or compromise.

If we count Turkey out of the European dialogue, one will have no difficulties finding assassinated journalists over the Narrows of Bosporus. Ironically, some members of the European Union, the alleged utopian liberal organizations, have come across the phenomenon at hand. Italy, one of the founding members of the EU (then the European Coal and Steel community), has had its share of scandals regarding freedom of speech and especially free speech in written form. Housing the most notorious families of the Mafia, high-profile journalist assassinations were a rather frequent occurrence in the late 20th century. Giancarlo Siani, Peppino Impastato, Giuseppe Fava, were just some of the “causalities” of journalism in the late 20thcentury Italy, which saw some Mafia families reaching their peak of power before the inevitable decline. Their kill count since then has not been dramatically increased, yet sometimes their threats towards journalists can be observed. Though in Europe, by the beginning of 2017, seven assassinated journalists had made headlines in their respective countries and in the peripheries countries such as Bulgaria, Slovakia and even Sweden.

Assassinations of journalists ultimately not only decrease the level of perceived democracy of a state, but most importantly decreases the population’s trust in the government. The simplest connotation to these occurrences derives from the idea that the governmental body does not want the general public to hold specific information it thinks to be detrimental to its integrity. Yet information is fluid, it eventually finds a crack in the government’s wall and escapes. Functioning democracies tend not to have frequent or any at all, assassination claims, as their governments are transparent and abstain from concealing information from the public.  But what happens when there is no democracy even on the horizon? What happens to journalists that have Saudi, Uzbek, Russian, Pakistani passports. With an officially reported “two” assassinations in Saudi Arabia, only “one” being a Saudi citizen (Jamal Khashoggi) and the other being Simon Cumbers of the BBC murdered near central Riyadh. This article has aimed to demonstrate one simple truth, the unnecessary deaths of journalist who desire to employ their skills to manifest to the masses that the government of a certain state does not function as it should, are hidden under the media radar unless, the victims of such atrocities are well-known individuals, whose “disappearances” will undoubtedly evoke public interest.


Banner photo: Image Courtesy of political news via © Flickr, 2019, some rights reserved

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