In an effort to expose the facts and bring the truth to light for the benefit of a wide audience, journalists have been taking risks beyond their calculations, and consequently have been targeted and killed. Most of the killings have been prompted by political motives. Next only to the political murders, are the killings of journalists due to war. The journalists covering wars do not shirk away from the front lines, and they often frequent places where they are exposed to all sorts of risks. Corruption is the third biggest motive behind the killings of journalists. Sadly, often corrupt people do not hesitate to eliminate journalists as they are often the major sources of evidence against them.
1. Elijah Parish Lovejoy
Elijah Parish Lovejoy was born in Maine on November 9, 1802 and died in Alton, Illinois on November 7, 1837 at the young age of 34. He was a journalist and a newspaper editor of the newspaper ‘St.Louis Observer’. He also ran a school. He owned a press in Illinois and made full use of it against slavery. Although the pro-slavery lobby destroyed his three presses, one after the other, he continued saying, writing and publishing fearlessly. A pro-slavery mob attacked his press the fourth time in Alton on November 7, 1837 because he was printing The Alton Observer- an anti-slavery, abolitionist newspaper on his press. Elijah Parish Lovejoy and his supporters exchanged gunfire and Lovejoy was shot fatally during this exchange. Upon his death- being shot for the noble cause of anti-slavery- people hailed him as a martyr. Lovejoy’s brother Owen entered into politics after his death and lead the Illinois abolitionists.
2. Ernie Pyle
Ernest Taylor Pyle better known as Ernie Pyle was born near Dana, Indiana on August 3, 1900. He died in Le Shima, off Okinawa Island by Japanese machine gun fire. From 1935 until his death, he was a roving correspondent for Scripps Howard newspapers chain during World War II. What he wrote in wars is preserved in his four books; Ernie Pyle in England, Here is your War, Brave Men and Last Chapter. Pyle and Coolidge who had taken shelter into a ditch to protect themselves from enemy fire, raised their heads from a ditch. Pyle smiled and asked , ‘ Are you all right?’ and those were his last words. Machine gun fire killed him on the spot.
3. Anna Politkovskaya
Anna Stepanoyna Mazepa commonly known as Anna Poltiovskaya was born in New York City, New York, US on August 30, 1958 and died in Moscow, Russia on October 7, 2006 at the age of 48. She was a journalist and human rights activist. She was known for her opposition to the Chechen conflict and to President Vladimir Putin. Russian people liked to read her investigative and critical articles in the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. She was found killed in a lift on October 7, 2006. Anna Politkovskaya had been shot in shoulder, head and chest from very close range.
4. Remi Ochlik
Remi Ochlik was born in Thionville, France on October 16, 1983. He died along with Marie Colvin in Homs, Syria on February 22, 2012, while fleeing from a building under the 19th consecutive day Bombardment of Syrian Army. He won a Francois Chalais Award as a freelance photojournalist. Three other journalists with them were severely wounded. He earned his degree in photography from Icart Photo School. His three pictures- The Fall of Tripoli, Egypt Tahir Square and The Jasmine Revolution received GrandPrix Jean- Louis Calderon status. He also won first prize in the 2012 World Press Photo Contest.
5. Marie Colvin
Marie Catherine Colvin better known as Marie Colvin was born in Astoria, Oyster Bay, New York, US on January 12, 1956 and died in Homs, Syria on February 22, 2012 at the age of 56. She received her early education at Oyster Bay High School and graduated from Yale University, receiving her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology in 1978. She worked for The Sunday Times beginning in 1985 and covered Siege of Homs in Syria. She had covered many hotspots and she was credited for saving lives of 1,500 women and children in a besieged compound of East Timor in 1999, by not leaving the compound and continuing the coverage from within. She won the International Women’s Media Foundation award for courage while covering Kosovo and Chehnya. She lost sight in her left eye during a rocket propelled grenade attack by the Sri Lankan Army. Marrie Colvin and Remi Ochlik died on February 22, 2012 while trying to escape from a building, being shelled by the Syrian Army.
6. Valdislav Listyev
Valdislav Listyev was born in Moscow, USSR on May 10, 1956 and died in Moscow on March 1, 1995. He was the most famous journalist and TV anchor in Russia. He first appeared in the TV show watched weekly by about 100 million viewers. On March 1, 1995, while returning from the evening show Chas pik’ Listyev was shot dead on the stairs of his apartment building. Valuables and a large sum of cash he was had remained untouched. Investigators concluded some business or political activity as cause of the assassination. The killing resulted in huge public outcry and Russian TV Channels shut down on March 2, 1995 mourning ‘Vlad Listiyev has been killed’.
7. Michelle Lang
Michelle Lang was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on January 31, 1975. She was killed in Kandhar, Afghanistan on December 30, 2009. She was educated at Magee Secondary School and Simon Fraser University. She started her career as reporter at Prince George’s Free Press. She switched over to few other jobs prior to settling herself at The Calgary Herald. In 2008 she won a National Newspaper Award. She was assigned by Herald and Canwest News Service for six weeks, to cover and report Afghanistan affairs. A roadside planted bomb struck the armored military vehicle which she was riding. She was severely wounded and did not survive.
8. Alexander Litvinenko
Alexander Litvinenko was born in the Soviet Union on August 30, 1962 and died there on November 23, 2006.He was an officer who served Soviet Federal Security Service FSB and KGB. Along with some other officers, he accused the superiors of having ordered the assassination of the Russian Tycoon Boris Berezovsky. He was arrested on charges of excessive use of authority at work. Having been acquitted, he fled with family to London and sought political asylum. There he became a journalist and wrote Blowing up Russia: Terror from Within and another book Lubyanka Criminal Group accusing Russian Secret Services of some criminal activities. On November 1 he fell suddenly ill on account of poisoning by Polonium-210 and died of it on November 23, 2006. His wife led a campaign through Litvinenko Justice Foundation and won a right for full public investigation by a coroner in London.
9. Robert Capa
Engre Erno Friedmann better known as Robert Capa was born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary on October 22, 1913. He died in Thai Binh, State of Vietnam on May 25, 1954 at the age of 40. He was a Hungarian combat photojournalist who covered Spanish Civil War, Second Sino- Japanese War, World War II, 1948 Arab- Israel War and First Indo China War. His action photographs of Battle of Normandy and other wars are unique and of historic value. He was assigned by Life Magazine to cover First Indochina War, along with two other Life Journalists, John Mecklin and Jim Lucas. On May 25, 1945 at 2:55 while passing through a dangerous area under fire, he stepped out of the jeep for a better view and stepped onto a landmine. Hearing the explosion, his other two colleagues reached at the spot to find him with left leg blown and chest wounded. Prior to reaching the small field hospital Robert Capa expired with the camera in his hand.
10. Gdzhimurat Kamalov
Gdzhimurat Kamalov was born in Sorgrat I, Gunibsky, republic of Dagestan, Russia, and died in Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan, Russia. He was educated at Dagestan Polytechnic Institute and Leningrad Technical University. He started his career in Journalism with News Business and soon started publishing his own Svoboda Slova- Freedom of Speech. He was shot dead on account of his reporting Muslim rebel activity in Dagestan and for reporting on corruption. At the time of his assassination his uncle, Ali Kamalov was Chairman of the Union of Journalists.
Nothing is free in this world, especially the ‘freedom of speech’. Investigative reporting, coverage of war, and wild life photography are highly susceptible to killings. Organized underworld crime and government corruption are for the journalists what the lions and tigers are for wildlife photographers.