Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has expressed concern about reports that 29-year old journalist Lyra McKee was killed in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, after shots were fired during an incident of unrest on 18 April.
McKee had signed a two-book deal with Faber, which described her as a “rising star of investigative journalism”. In 2016, she had been named as one of Forbes’ “30 under 30” in media in Europe.
RSF said it was waiting for the police investigation to determine whether McKee was present as a journalist reporting on the unrest, and whether she was deliberately targeted.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Lyra McKee’s killing; by all accounts she was a talented young journalist with a bright future ahead of her. We are concerned by reports of the incident that resulted in her killing, and are waiting for the police investigation to determine whether she was targeted as a journalist reporting on the unrest”, said RSF UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland has confirmed that McKee was wounded when a single gunman fired shots in a residential part of the Creggan area of the city around 11 pm on 18 April. She was taken to hospital in a police vehicle, but died from her injuries. The police have stated they are treating it as a “terrorist incident”.
McKee’s killing took place the same day as the launch of RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, which saw a seven-place rise in ranking for the UK, now ranked 33rd out of 180 countries.
The index describes the global climate as “a cycle of fear”, describing how the hatred of journalists degenerates into violence and an increase of fear in the media and society.