As 2008 draws to a close, Committee to Protect Journalists reflected on the rising influence of online reporting and commentary. This year, more Internet journalists are jailed worldwide today, than journalists working in any other medium. CPJ found that 45% of all media workers jailed worldwide are bloggers, web-based reporters, or online editors. These online journalists represent the largest professional category for the first time in CPJ’s prison census.
CPJ's 2008 census found 125 journalists in all behind bars on December 1. This represents a decrease of two from the 2007 tally. (Read detailed accounts of each imprisoned journalist.) Perhaps not surprisingly, China continued to be world's worst jailer of journalists, for the 10th straight year.
Of the 125 journalists behind bars, at least 56 of them are considered “online” journalists. Nowhere is the ascendance of Internet journalism more evident than in China, where 24 of 28 jailed journalists worked online. "Online journalism has changed the media landscape and the way we communicate with each other," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "But the power and influence of this new generation of online journalists has captured the attention of repressive governments around the world, and they have accelerated their counterattack." By way of comparison to the amount of online journalists behind bars, print reporters, editors, and photographers make up the next largest professional category, with 53 cases.
It’s hardly surprising that in our increasingly technological world, that journalists are targeted for their reporting. What is surprising however, is the rate at which it’s happening. Hopefully continued efforts by organizations such as CPJ will lead to more awareness about the problem, and solutions to help curb attacks against journalists. Because journalist should be imprisoned for just doing their job.