Environment reporters facing harassment and murder, study finds

Tally of deaths makes it one of most dangerous fields for journalists after war reporting

Thirteen journalists who were investigating damage to the environment have been killed in recent years and many more are suffering violence, harassment, intimidation and lawsuits, according to a study.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which produced the tally, is investigating a further 16 deaths over the last decade. It says the number of murders may be as high as 29, making this field of journalism one of the most dangerous after war reporting.

On every continent reporters have been attacked for investigating concerns about abuses related to the impact of corporate and political interests scrambling to extract wealth from the earth’s remaining natural resources.

These resources end up in all manner of products – from mobile phones to pots and pans – with consumers largely unaware of the stories behind them.

The study was produced for Green Blood, a reporting project whose aim is to continue the reporting of local environmental journalists who have been forced to abandon their work.

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 Goldmining in Tanzania. Photograph: Handout Acacia Mining plc

Led by Forbidden Stories, a group of 15 media partners, including the Guardian, El País and Le Monde, have come together to shine an international light on the way these activities affect local environments and communities.

“Environmental issues involve some of the greatest abuses of power in the world and some of the greatest of concentrations of power in the world,” said Bruce Shapiro, the director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

“I’m hard put to think of a category of investigative reporters who are routinely dealing with more dangerous actors. Investigative reporting on the environment can be as dangerous a beat as reporting on narco smuggling.”

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