RSF: 'Historically Low' Number of Journalists Killed in 2019

But, 49 is still far too many.

I’m Scott Nover. Welcome back to Pressing, a newsletter about press freedom. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so here and receive this letter in your inbox every Tuesday morning as well as special features for paid subscribers.

This is the 26th issue of Pressing and it’s great to have you with me. Please send me feedback, thoughts, suggestions, and tips at

New Report: 49 Journalists Killed in 2019

A brand new report from Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shows that 49 journalists were killed in 2019, a 44% dip from last year and the lowest mark since 2003. The decline, RSF says, is a result of fewer journalists dying in active war zones, particularly in Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan.

389 journalists have been arbitrarily detained, though, a 12% increase since last year. And nearly half of these detentions are in three countries: China, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

This week also saw the release of a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report, which finds 250 journalists are imprisoned around the world, down from 255 last year. The biggest culprits: China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, followed by Eritrea, Vietnam, and Iran.

According to the RSF report, 57 journalists are currently being held hostage: 24 by Islamic State forces and 14 by the Houthis; 30 are being held in Syria, 15 in Yemen, 11 in Iraq, and one in Ukraine. American Austin Tice is classified as a Syrian-held hostage. No journalists are currently missing, the report notes.

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My Latest Essay on Media Trust

My latest essay, Who Trusts the Media Anyway?, was sent out to paid subscribers on Friday. In it, I dive into the new Pew Research Center study on trust in journalism, which finds that — perhaps unsurprisingly — Trump-supporting Republicans are least trusting of the media. I tie this to some longstanding trends and some recent developments. You can subscribe to read it here and get future essays and updates straight to your inbox.

What’s New and Notable

Chris Wallace: Trump’s ‘Assault on Freedom of the Press’

My Friday essay addresses some of this, but Fox NewsChris Wallace recently spoke at the Newseum saying that President Donald Trump is “engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history.”

Margaret Sullivan at The Washington Post says that Wallace’s comments are all well and good but they don’t excuse the actions of his colleagues at Fox News, which, she says, routinely “traffics in propaganda.”

Thanks for reading Pressing today and always. Like what you read and want to support me? Consider a paid membership here. Otherwise, I’ll see you on Tuesday! Send tips and feedback to