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Journalists and the environment: a new war

The work of investigative journalists and environmental activists poses a threat to many companies, organised crime groups, governments and various intermediaries that profit from misuse of the environment, says a new report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). As environmental concerns complicate lucrative plans, journalists are sometimes seen as enemies to be physically eliminated.

The report, "The dangers for journalists who expose environmental issues", looks at 13 cases of journalists and bloggers who have been killed, physically attacked, jailed, threatened or censored for reporting on the environment. It points to the need for a free press to provide a detailed survey of ecological challenges to spur decision-makers to take action.

In southern China, foreign journalists have been driven from villages where most of the world's discarded computers are stripped apart in an environmentally disastrous manner. In Russia, journalist Mikhail Beketov was beaten nearly to death by local government thugs who did not like his coverage of a plan to build a motorway through a forest. In Brazil, editor Lúcio Flávio Pinto published a series of reports about deforestation in the Amazon; as a result, 33 lawsuits were brought against him.

The report also covers the case of Filipino journalist Joey Estriber, who has been missing since 2006, after he criticised intensive logging by companies allied with the government. He had participated in a campaign to have the permits of nine companies withdrawn.

To support these journalists, which it calls "the guardians of our planet," RSF has published a new photography book: "Nature: 100 photos for press freedom," including an interview with British primatologist Jane Goodall. It showcases some of the best work ever produced by Minden Pictures, an agency renowned for the extraordinary quality of its photos of nature and wildlife.

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