Dec 9, 2021 - Economy

CPJ: Record number of journalists in jail worldwide

Police arrest Myanmar Now journalist Kay Zon Nwe in Yangon on February 27, 2021, as protesters were taking part in a demonstration against the military coup.

Police arrest a Myanmar Now journalist during anti-coup protests in Yangon on Feb. 27. Photo: Ye Aung Thu/AFP via Getty Images

A record number of journalists are in jail for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday, a grim reminder of the growing threat the free press faces against authoritarian rulers.

Driving the news: The pandemic has empowered autocratic leaders and others to go after the free press under the guise of arbitrary "fake news" laws and internet blackouts meant to silent dissent.

  • "The reasons for the relentless climb in the numbers of detained journalists – this is the sixth consecutive year that CPJ’s census has recorded at least 250 incarcerated – differ between countries," CPJ wrote. "But all reflect a stark trend: a growing intolerance of independent reporting."

By the numbers: A record 293 journalists were in prison worldwide as of Dec. 1, CPJ said, up from the 280 the organization counted in its census last year.

  • CPJ estimates that at least 24 journalists have been killed so far in 2021 because of their coverage, while 18 others "died in circumstances too murky to determine whether they were specific targets."
  • For the third straight year, China remains the world's most frequent jailer of journalists, putting at least 50 journalists behind bars, per CPJ. Myanmar, Egypt, Vietnam, Belarus and Turkey round out the list of top offenders.

Between the lines: CPJ said its count "does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year."

Go deeper: Journalists face record levels of persecution globally.

Go deeper