U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Assaults of journalists already surpassing last year’s total

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Published On
June 28, 2024

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Attacks on journalists across the U.S.

In last month’s newsletter, I wrote how the number of journalists arrested or detained was already more than the last two years — combined.

This month, I want to highlight how the number of journalists assaulted that we’ve documented or are actively reporting on will surpass the total number of assaults from all of last year — and the year is only half over.

The assailants, or those who are shoving, kicking and spraying chemical irritants on journalists, are about evenly split between law enforcement and members of the public. The vast majority — more than 85% — are occurring at Israel-Gaza war protests across the nation.

Assaults of journalists in 2024

Remembering the victims of the Capital Gazette attack

This Friday, June 28, marks six years since a man armed with a shotgun entered the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, and killed four journalists and a newsroom employee. It was the deadliest single attack on journalists in U.S. history; the gunman was later sentenced in 2021 to six life sentences plus 345 years in prison, all to be served consecutively.

Last year, the families of the victims plus five survivors reached a settlement agreement with The Baltimore Sun and Tribune Publishing, the outlet’s parent companies, as part of two lawsuits. Phil Davis, a former crime reporter for the Gazette who survived the shooting, told Tracker Senior Reporter Stephanie Sugars that he discourages the idea that the end of the lawsuit means closure.

“Everyone wants closure, because closure is what makes everything easier to understand. It gives people a way to endnote things,” Davis said. “I hope people realize that it doesn’t create a new chapter for anyone.”

All journalists killed in or present for the attack are documented in the Tracker’s Assault category; damage to the building during the shooting is captured in the Equipment Damage category.

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

A copy of the Capital Gazette is displayed in a newspaper box the day after a gunman killed five people and injured several others at the publication's offices in Annapolis, Maryland, on June 29, 2018.

— REUTERS/Joshua Roberts


Talking about assaults can feel overwhelming. Use or share these resources to keep journalists safe: