So far this year, seven journalists are confirmed, and two others suspected, dead. At what number this tragic toll stops in 2006 is anyone's guess and, at least for now, 2005 remains the most violent year in journalism's history. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reported in January that 150 were killed last year, including forty-eight in a December 6 plane crash in Tehran and eighty-nine "killed in the line of duty, singled out for their professional work."
The previous record was 129 deaths, set in 2004. The December 26, 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia claimed eighty-nine journalists, and marked the start of an increasing trend in the field: foreign-location assignments are killing journalists.
"Unfortunately, journalists are now more part of the conflict," says Douglas Struck, foreign correspondent for The Washington Post. "It used to be that journalists felt with some degree of accuracy that we were not in the line of fire, that we had a special status as neutral observers that usually kept us pretty safe. That's clearly not true any more, particularly in Iraq, where journalists are targeted specifically by those on one side."