Brazil has been making the headlines day after day due to the worrying records of Covid-related deaths in recent weeks. Now, the country has reached the top of the list of countries with the highest number of journalists who died of Covid-19 – 878 in 70 nations – since the beginning of the pandemic.
The death toll was revealed by the Genebra-based Press Emblem Campaign, which started, in March 2020, a corona-ticker to pay tribute to the journalists killed by the Covid-19 around the world. The total number of fatalities amounts to more than 2,4 deaths every day. According to PEC, this is the heaviest toll in the media community since World War II.
With 111 deaths, Brazil has surpassed Peru, where 109 media professionals lost their lives. The country had the worst record in 2021, with 50 deaths there in just two months.
Along with Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia are among the top 10 countries in deaths. As a consequence, the region led with more than half of the known victims of Covid-19. Asia follows with at least 151 confirmed virus-related journalist deaths, while at least 147 were recorded in Europe (as of March 4th).
The PEC data only contains journalists who died with COVID-19 whose cases were featured in local media, referenced by journalism associations, or noted by regional PEC correspondents. The actual numbers may be even higher.
“The PEC deplores this large number of victims from the coronavirus and sends its condolences to families and colleagues. It is essential that now journalists can have rapid access to vaccination so that they can do their work in the field without endangering their lives”, said PEC Secretary-General Blaise Lempen in a statement issued in the first week of March. “We hope that numbers, still very high in January-February, will start to drop”, he added.
The most affected countries are Brazil (111), Peru (109), Mexico (88), India (57), Italy (50), Bangladesh (44), USA (44), Ecuador (42), Colombia (37), United Kingdom (28), Pakistan (23), Turkey (21), Panama (16), Bolivia (14), Russia (14), Ukraine (14) and Spain (13).
Press Emblem Campaign reinforces that media workers have an essential role to play in the fight against the virus. The numbers show how their safety is particularly at risk in this crisis because they must continue to provide information on the ground.
PEC states that a number of them died for lack of adequate protective measures when doing their job.
Lempen also highlighted the age of the victims in different regions:
“What surprises me is that, contrary to common belief, many journalists have died relatively young. In developed countries like Italy, the United States, and Great Britain, most of the journalists who died from COVID-19 were over 70. However, in developing countries like Brazil, India, or South Africa, they were younger — most of them in their 50s or 60s.”
The situation in Brazil
The Brazilian National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj), affiliated with IJF (International Federation of Journalists) issued in February a report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on media professionals. It confirms that young professionals were hit hard by Covid-19.
The study also showed how deaths have increased over the recent months, having peaked in January.
Men were more affected than women, although in Brazil there is a high number of female journalists working in the newsrooms. Amazonas (which capital is Manaus, famous for being the epicentre of a coronavirus surge) and São Paulo accounted at that time for 14 deaths each, followed by Rio de Janeiro, with 12. In Amazonas, 64% of the fatalities were registered in January this year – in only 31 days, 50% more journalists died in Amazonas than in the previous 10 months of the pandemic