Reporters Without Borders stated that there are currently 488 media professionals imprisoned around the world, while 48 have been killed.
In its analysis, RSF disclosed that the number of journalists imprisoned this year is the highest since the NGO began counting more than 25 years ago.
By contrast, the number killed this year, 46 was the lowest since it began issuing annual tallies, due to the relative stabilisation of conflicts in the Middle East.
“The number of journalists detained in connection with their work has never been this high since RSF began publishing its annual round-up in 1995,” the NGO, which battles for freedom of the press, said in a statement.
RSF said it had also never seen so many female journalists detained, with the overall number of 60 representing a third more than 2020.
China leads the way for imprisoned journalists with 127, thanks in large part to the national security law it imposed on Hong Kong, undermining many of its long-standing democratic freedoms.
According to RSF, Myanmar was second with 53, followed by Vietnam (43), Belarus (32) and Saudi Arabia (31).
The falling number of deaths since a peak in 2016 reflects changing dynamics in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, where a reduction in conflict means fewer journalists have been drawn to the region.
Most of the 46 killings were assassinations: “65 percent were deliberately targeted and eliminated,” the report said.
RSF also disclosed that 65 journalists and colleagues are being held as hostages around the world.
All are in the Middle East — Syria (44), Iraq (11) and Yemen (9) — apart from French journalist Olivier Dubois, held in Mali since April.