Fifty-seven journalists worldwide have been killed this year, according to the media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, adding that fewer reporters were being killed in war zones and more were being targeted by criminals or traffickers.
The death toll was down 25% from 2009, when 76 journalists were killed. Last year's record number of deaths was so high because of a massacre in the Philippines in which more than two dozen journalists and their staff were gunned down.
In its annual report, the Paris-based group said organized criminal gangs and militias posed the biggest threat to journalists. "If governments do not make every effort to punish the murderers of journalists, they become their accomplices," Jean-François Julliard, the Reporters Without Borders secretary general, said.
Pakistan has been the deadliest country for reporters this year, with 11 killed. Seven journalists were killed in Mexico, seven in Iraq and four in the Philippines.
This month the Committee to Protect Journalists said 42 media workers have been killed worldwide in 2010.
Reporters Without Borders said this year has also seen a surge in abductions. Fifty-one reporters have been kidnapped in 2010, up from 33 in 2009, Reporters Without Borders said.
French TV journalists Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier and their three Afghan assistants have been held hostage in Afghanistan for more than a year.
"Journalists are seen less and less as outside observers," Julliard said. "Their neutrality and the nature of their work are no longer respected."