The Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ) says 46 journalists were killed last year in countries around the world, either in targeted murders or while working on dangerous assignments.
In its annual report, "Attacks on the Press in 2011," the New York-based group said Pakistan was the most dangerous place for journalists to work, with seven reporters killed.
Next in line were Libya and Iraq, each with five confirmed killings of journalists.
The CPJ said 15 journalists lost their lives covering the Arab Spring pro-reform protests last year.
The group also says at least 179 journalists were imprisoned last year -- the highest number since the 1990s.
Iran imprisons the largest number, with 42 in jail, CPJ said. With five journalists in prison, Uzbekistan was dubbed by CPJ as Central Asia's "worst jailer of the press."
The report condemns government campaigns to silence media in countries including China, Syria, and Egypt.
The report says that the most common charges brought by the authorities against journalists worldwide were "antistate" allegations, including treason, subversion, and acting against national interests.
The report cited a rise in the number of journalists being held without charge or due process. The CPJ said many such detainees are being held in secret prisons, without access to lawyers or family members.
Role Of New Media
The report also highlights the role that new social media and citizen-generated content has played in the Arab Spring movements.
The CPJ suggests that the convergence of traditional and new media was among the major trends that emerged after the fall of the regime in Tunisia in the beginning of 2011.
The report says important news during the popular Arab revolts was sometimes broken by bloggers and others on Twitter. It says the rise in citizen-generated video footage was central to the ability of mainstream media to cover the Arab movements.
The report says new media furthered the free flow of information because it was not bound by restrictive laws targeting professional journalists under authoritarian regimes.
The report notes, however, that authorities in Syria and other countries have responded to the growing role of new media by harassing and threatening bloggers, interrogating activists to gain passwords to Facebook and other networking sites, and hacking websites.