When Ivan Safronov, a military correspondent for Russia's top business daily, Kommersant, fell to his death from the fifth floor of his Moscow apartment building last week, it reinforced the fact that journalism can be deadly.
And two organizations, the International News Safety Institute (INSI), based in Brussels, Belgium, and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), have the facts and figures to make such an assumption.
Safronov's death remains under investigation, for as INSI director Rodney Pinder pointed out in an AP story: "Thirteen journalists have died in Russia since (President Vladimir) Putin came to power, and there hasn't been a conviction."
Meanwhile, both the INSI and the CPJ delve into a world of intrigue and have done so since the 1990s when it involves journalists, whether they are front-line news reporters, TV cameramen and women, behind-the-scenes editors and, of course, the Internet and its subsidiaries, which manages to peer into the seedier sides of life as no other medium has done before.
Besides Safronov's sudden demise, another highly-suspect case was that of investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who was delving into the abuses by Russian troops in Chechyna. She was shot and killed outside her apartment last October, according to an AP report.
In pursing the matter, the INSI has reported that more than 1,000 journalists and their support staff have died in the past decade, and that Iraq and Russia happen to be the deadliest countries.
Just in the last couple of days that point was driven home when Iraqi TV cameraman Youssef Sabri was killed in a car bombing.
Apparently, Sabri was filming Shi'ite pilgrims in Karbala from the back of a police truck when he was killed by an explosion, which ripped through a police checkpoint.
Although the figures from the INSI were much higher because they included translators, fixers, office staff and drivers, the CPJ, claimed at least 95 journalists, not including Sabri, have died since the Iraq war began in 2003.
The INSI began compiling its list in 1990 while the CPJ started in 1992 when they reported 42 journalists were killed in scenarios involving murder, being caught in crossfire, and being on dangerous assignments. Some 11 others died that year, but the reason for their deaths still have not been confirmed.
While both groups might have discrepanies in their statistical data, the CPJ claims 55 died in 2006, with those involved in reporting on a variety of fronts from war, politics, corruption, crime, human rights, sports/culture to business. Of the reported 55, some 32 died in Iraq and two in Russia.
Briefly are details about just a few of those killed in Iraq during 2006:
* Munsuf Abdallah al-Khaldi, Baghdad TV, March 7, Baghdad: Unidentified gunmen in west Baghdad shot al-Khaldi, 35, a presenter for the Iraqi television station Baghdad TV. Al-Khadi was driving to the northern city of Mosul to interview poets when assailants stopped the car and fired three shots ... One passenger was killed and two others injured. Al-Khaldi presented an educational and cultural show focusing on Middle Eastern poetry.
* Amjad Hameed, Al-Iraqiya, March 11, Baghdad: Hameed and his driver Anwar Turki were shot and killed by gunmen apparently affiliated with al-Qaeda in an ambush in central Baghdad. Hameed had been head of programming for Iraq's state TV channel Al-Iraqiya since July 2005 ... The father of three children had just left home for work when he was shot several times in the head and chest.
* James Brolan and Paul Douglas, CBS, May 29, Baghdad: Cameraman Douglas and soundman Brolan were killed when a car bomb exploded while they were on patrol in Baghdad with Iraqi and American soldiers. Correspondent Kimberly Dozier, the third member of the CBS crew, was seriously injured in the attack.
* Ismail Amin Ali, freelance, August 7, Baghdad: The body of freelance journalist Ali, 30, was discovered in late evening by police in the eastern section of Baghdad known as al-Sadr City, according to a CPJ source. His body was riddled with bullets, and Iraqi police said they found signs of torture. The journalist had been abducted while he was at a gas station two weeks earlier. The kidnappers had demanded ransom, but his family was unable to pay.
While Politkovskaya's murder on Oct. 7, 2006 in Moscow received world-wide attention, there was also another journalist -- Vagif Kochetkov, who worked for Trud and Tulsky Molodoi Kommunar -- who died on Jan. 8. The 31-year-old from Tula, 125 miles south of Moscow, reported on politics, social issues and culture.
On the night of the attack, Kochetkov told his parents he was meeting an unidentified person, and he would return home to download his work onto his computer. That evening he called from a local coffee shop and told them he'd be home in an hour. On the way, he was attacked. Although his condition wasn't considered serious at first, he began to deteriorate and after brain surgery on Jan. 5 he fell into a coma and died three days later. Just prior to the attack, Kochetkov wrote an article on the activities of a Tula drug-dealing group with the banner headline: "Revenge of the Mafia?"
As we said, and statistics will confirm, journalism can be a dangerous profession.