Research event

Why are journalists killed in democracies?

A presentation by Anita Gohdes (Hertie School). This event is part of the Fundamental Rights Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights.

Although an independent media is a pillar of democratic societies, journalists are frequently targeted, harassed and even killed in democracies. The paper investigates the determinants of journalist killings through state authorities in democratic countries. We expect that journalists are more likely to be targeted by lower-level state agents in politically remote areas, as subnational authorities are unable to constrain press freedom more widely. Local state authorities will be motivated to silence journalists where their political survival depends on their public image, and where removal from office would result in significant loss of power. Using new global data on the killings of journalists, we show that journalists’ lives are most in danger where local politicians are democratically elected, and where public sector corruption is rampant. This study contributes to the growing literature on the determinants of repression in democratic regimes.

Anita Gohdes is Professor of International and Cyber Security at the Hertie School. Her research focuses on contentious politics in the cyber realm, with a current emphasis on large-scale quantitative analyses of state behaviour. Previously, she was Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Zurich, and postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center International Security Program. Since 2009, she has worked for the California-based non-profit organisation Human Rights Data Analysis Group. She currently advises the German Federal Foreign Office, and has consulted for the World Bank and the United Nations on security and state fragility. Her doctoral dissertation (University of Mannheim) was awarded the German Dissertation Award in the Social Sciences by the Körber Foundation, and the Walter Isard Dissertation Award by the Peace Science Society. Anita Gohdes is part of the Centre for International Security's research team.