India named among most dangerous countries for environmental journalists

Author: Kaamil Ahmed, Mongabay- India, Published on: 9 January 2019

"Journalists reporting on the environment faced increased dangers in 2018", 4 January 2019

A pair of “French spies” had infiltrated India by sea to commit a “treasonous conspiracy,” an Indian minister claimed in late November. In reality, they were two visiting journalists, and their mission was an investigation into allegations of illegal sand mining in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. They had merely tried and failed to visit the site of a major mining company through legal means.

Their presence set off alarm bells among some connected to the industry, and the fallout has been significant. It’s included a police investigation, a politically fueled propaganda campaign, and the arrests of two local translators who had been working for them...[This] case is just one example of the growing dangers for journalists reporting environmental stories. Even as environmental journalism becomes increasingly important in the face of destructive business and political interests and practices, the inherent safety risks remain...

At least 10 journalists covering the environment were killed between 2010 and 2016, according to Reporters without Borders — all but two of them in Asia. India and Cambodia were highlighted by the group as countries where journalists have been killed and threatened with impunity...In his study, Knight’s Freedman spoke with journalists around the world about how the dangers they had faced while reporting on the environment had long-term, often traumatic, effects on their lives and careers. Some described physical assaults they had been subjected to, others the conditions of their detention, or the experiences of repeated arrests...

Much of the burden has fallen on the shoulders of freelance reporters, since the 2008 financial crisis forced publications around the world to downsize. Many have cut reporters on the environmental beat, though Freedman said he felt the field had recently been able to claw back some of those losses...

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