This year has been the deadliest for journalists in the field since monitoring began 17 years ago, according to an annual report released Wednesday by Reporters Without Borders.
Eighty-eight journalists lost their lives while reporting in the middle of wars and bombings, or were killed on orders by corrupt governments, organized crime tied to drug trafficking and by Islamist militias, the report said.
This is a 33% rise in journalist deaths since just last year.
"The reason for the unprecedented number of journalists killed in 2012 is mainly the war in Syria, the chaos in Somalia and Taliban violence in Pakistan," said Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of the nonprofit group. "The impunity enjoyed by those responsible for violations of human rights, in particular, the right to freedom of information, encourages the continuation of these violations."
In places like Syria, where fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have battled opposition forces for the past 21 months, professional journalists have faced difficulty and persecution while attempting to report. Amateur reporters, using mobile phone cameras and Twitter feeds, have stepped in to tell the story of life in the conflict zones.
According to the report, 47 so-called citizen journalists were killed in 2012, compared with five in 2011. In Syria alone, at least 17 journalists, 44 citizen journalists and four media assistants lost their lives, the report said.
"Because of the polarization of information sources, news manipulation, propaganda, technical constraints and the extreme violence to which journalists and citizen journalists are exposed, anyone trying to gather or disseminate news and information in Syria needs a real sense of vocation," the Reporters Without Borders report said.
"Without their action, the Syrian regime would be able to impose a total blockade on information in some regions and carry out its massacre with nobody watching."
After Syria, the report said, Somalia was the next most dangerous place for journalists, with 18 killed in 2012, followed by Pakistan, the world's deadliest country for the media from 2009 to 2011, with 10 deaths of media personnel.
Organized crime, drug trafficking and government corruption led to the deaths of six journalists in Mexico and five in Brazil, according to Reporters Without Borders, the next two most perilous countries in the world for those trying to report the news.