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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

25 mins ago - Health

Omicron hits American hospitals disproportionately hard

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

America is seeing more COVID hospitalizations than other wealthy countries during the Omicron surge, according to Our World in Data.

Why it matters: Vaccines keep the vast majority of COVID cases out of the hospital, but vaccination rates are also lower in the U.S. than these other countries.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: The end of the Omicron wave is in sight — Transplants rebound from COVID lull.
  2. Vaccines: WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden to announce plan to distribute 400 million masks for free — Government website for free COVID tests launches early.
  4. World: WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker

University of Michigan reaches $490M settlement in sex abuse case

Jon Vaughn, a former University of Michigan and NFL football player, speaks at a press conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., in June 2021. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The University of Michigan on Wednesday reached a $490 million settlement with over a thousand survivors who allege that they were sexually assaulted by a former physician in the school's athletic department.

Driving the news: "It's been a long and challenging journey and these survivors have refused to remain silent," attorney Parker Stinar said Wednesday.