Online journalists are becoming "increasingly prominent" among the deaths recorded by the Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ) in its annual toll, the organisation said this week.

At least 42 journalists were killed this year in relation to their work around the world, according to the yearly analysis by the CPJ.

The committee claims that this includes at least six journalists who worked primarily online..

"Internet journalists rarely appeared in CPJ's death toll until 2008, when online reporters doing frontline investigative work began to be targeted with violence," a report by CPJ on the toll says.

The figure of at least 42 deaths reflects a "notable drop" from 2009, the report adds, when the Maguindanao massacre in the Philippines pushed up the number of work-related deaths to a record of 72.

A case is considered work-related "only when its staff is reasonably certain that a journalist was killed in direct reprisal for his or her work; in crossfire; or while carrying out a dangerous assignment", the report explains.

The committee is still investigating 28 other deaths in 2010 to determine whether they were work-related.

Pakistan was the world's "deadliest country" for the press in 2010, the report claims, with at least eight journalists killed there in connection with their work. Six of the deaths were caused by suicide attacks or crossfire during militant strikes.

Iraq, Mexico and Honduras also ranked highly for journalism-related fatalities.

CPJ began compiling detailed records on all journalist deaths in 1992 with each one independently investigated and the circumstances verified by members of staff.

Other key findings:
  • Broadcast reporters made up nearly 40 percent of victims, showing a departure from long-term data which shows print reporters as the single largest category;
  • Nine freelance journalists were among the 2010 victims, a number consistent with past years;
  • Among the journalists and media workers who were murdered more than 60 per cent had reported receiving threats in the weeks before they died;
  • Nearly 90 per cent of the 2010 victims were local reporters covering issues that affected their communities.

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