The number of journalists killed around the world in reprisal for their work nearly doubled in 2018 to at least 34 people, reflecting an increase in deliberate attacks on journalists in Afghanistan, according to a report released on Wednesday.
That was up sharply from 18 murdered for their work in 2017, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Overall, some 53 journalists died on the job worldwide from Jan. 1 through Dec. 14 -- including those killed inadvertently in combat or on other dangerous assignments -- a 13 per cent increase from 47 deaths in 2017, said CPJ, a U.S. nonprofit that promotes press freedom.
CPJ cited insufficient international standards for journalists' rights as another reason for the uptick in murders.
The report criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's refusal to blame the crown prince of Saudi Arabia for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, despite a CIA assessment that the prince had ordered the killing. The CPJ said Trump's stand signalled a dangerous lack of leadership in the protection of journalists.
The spike includes the deadliest attack on the U.S. media in recent history when a gunman who had filed a failed defamation lawsuit against the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland killed four journalists and a sales associate in June.
CPJ included the four slain journalists in its total of 34 reporters murdered during the year. The slain sales associate factored into a separate tally of seven media support workers who died on the job in 2018, down from eight in 2017.
Khashoggi, the reporters at the Capital Gazette, and the imprisoned Reuters' journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were featured last week in Time Magazine's Person of the Year issue, honouring "The Guardians and the War on Truth."
(With inputs from agencies.)