The International News Safety Institute
(INSI) says the new year has gotten off to one of the bloodiest beginnings ever for the world's news media.
The Brussels-based watchdog says warfare and other unrest has already claimed the lives of five journalists in 2009, the worst start to a new year since INSI began keeping records in 2003. More than 100 news media staff died in 2008.
The 2009 deaths came in Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Gaza.
INSI Director Rodney Pinder says there is significant evidence of journalists being targeted to silence their work.
"This is a dismaying start to the new year," Pinder said in a statement. "Free societies cannot exist without press freedom, and there is no press freedom where journalists are being killed because of their work."
INSI urgeds all warring parties to respect in letter and spirit UN Security Council Resolution 1738 of 2006 which demands an end to attacks on journalists in armed conflict.