The Black Book

/ 2012

format 205 × 125 mm | 960 pages | Perfect bound

The Black Book – List of Journalists Killed 1992 – 2011
(Motive Confirmed)

Seeing a list of casulties, as one would see the death records from wars or natural disasters, the people appear as numbers, a random scatter of names and countries, times of death etc. This evident unevennes of the weight a person has in the world, with how they are treated when mass deaths occur are the bones of the Black Book.

The Guardian released data on all journalist killed between 1992-2011. In this book the journalists are presented as a list, the only thing tying them together is the country in which they were killed, whether the person was German of Afghan, they shared a destiny together.

A list is somewhat distant, as described, but the sole weight of the 960 pages of this book tells another story. Viewing a list in an electronic form without the element of mass, we again meet this distance. But once one holds all the killed people in their hands, the context shifts. As a designer and artist, this holds grave promise as a tool of giving and presenting data that would touch the level of emotion.

Where does the influence lie in the subject? Is it how the author chooses to arrange and combine the data together to form an entity that tells a story? Is it in the motives of killing, and them who are behind that? Or does the industry have something on this – why they are sending repoters to dangerous places like Afghanistan? Or is it perhaps in the very nature of journalism – the truth seeking person looking for a way to communicate the wrong and the 'prejudice' in these places.

The influence is not only how it shapes the role of journalists abroad, and what happens after someone gets killed for the work they do. But the influence is most strongly present in the motive of who is behind these murders; what is that motive and what do they gain?

What we seem to lack to remember, though, are the interpreters and translators who, standing next to and working closely with the jounalists, got killed. There are several investigations done to gather numbers, and they are disturbing – hundreds a year.

Data from the Guardian Datablog © 2011 Guardian News and Media Ltd