Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August has had a “dramatic” impact on the country’s media, with more than four out of every 10 media outlets having disappeared and 60 percent of journalists and other media workers no longer being able to work.
According to a survey by RSF and the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA), the media landscape is now “largely devoid of women journalists” after 84 percent of female media employees lost their jobs, the Paris-based media-freedom watchdog said on December 20.
“There is an urgent need to rein in the spiral leading inevitably to the disappearance of Afghan media and to ensure that respect for press freedom is a priority,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk.
“Journalists’ safety, the fate of women journalists, media legislation and the right of access to news and information are all crucial issues that the authorities must address without delay,” Moini added.
RSF said that of the 543 media outlets tallied in Afghanistan at the start of the summer only 312 were still operating at the end of November, meaning that 43 percent of media outlets in the country had disappeared within three months.
While most Afghan provinces had at least 10 privately owned media outlets, some regions now have “almost no local media at all,” it said.
This “carnage” has had a major impact on employment in the media sector, according to RSF.
Of the 10,790 people working in the Afghan media at the beginning of August, only 4,360 were still working when the survey was carried out, it said.
Proportionally, female media workers have been hit harder: More than four out of five women have lost their jobs, against one out of every two men.
And “no female journalist at all is still working” in 15 of the country’s 34 provinces, according to RSF.
Hundreds of journalists have left Afghanistan over the past four months fearing reprisals or because of the impossibility of continuing to practice their profession.
Afghan media must comply with “11 Journalism Rules” issued by the Taliban-installed government that have opened the way to “censorship and persecution” and deprived journalists of their independence, RSF said.
In addition to harassment by the Taliban, media outlets been badly hit by a loss of advertising revenue and a halt in national and international funding.