Defending journalism in countries notorious for challenging press freedom

Defending journalism in countries notorious for challenging press freedom

The Philippines is one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists and media workers.

Eight years have passed since 32 of them were killed—out of a total of 58 people—in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province, on November 23, 2009. Globally, the Ampatuan massacre is the single deadliest event for the press, but the members of the Philippine news media persist in their duties despite the relentless attacks they receive up to the present, both online and offline.

With similar challenges experienced by journalists all over the globe, it has become more urgent to find “ways to protect the practice of journalism,” says press freedom nonprofit organization International Media Support (IMS).

This was what IMS envisioned when it put together a comparative analysis of locally driven journalist safety practices and national mechanisms that seek to protect the news media and address impunity in seven countries—Afghanistan, Colombia, Indonesia, Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

The result is a publication titled “Defending Journalism,” launched by IMS on November 18 at the Pinnacle Hotel, Davao City, in partnership with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC).

IMS global editors Elisabeth Witchel and Esben Q. Harboe collaborated with a team from AIJC—Ramon R. Tuazon, Therese Patricia C. San Diego, Ann Lourdes C. Lopez, and Daniel R. Abunales—for the section on the Philippines.

The section provides an overview about the country’s “vibrant” news media “beset by some of the highest rates of violence and impunity in the world.” It discusses the threats and challenges faced by Filipino journalists; the state responses and legislation concerning journalist safety; key safety mechanisms and programs by media NGOs, the government, civil society organizations, and academe; and the role in the Philippines of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

“Defending Journalism” is available at

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