Fifty-four journalists were killed in 2004, the deadliest year for journalists in a decade.
Simon Cumbers was shot and killed in Saudi Arabia
Iraq is the most dangerous destination, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said, with 23 reporters or crew dying there.
Among those killed was cameraman Simon Cumbers, 36, from Navan in Ireland.
He was shot in Saudi Arabia, along with BBC reporter Frank Gardner, 42, who was seriously wounded and is still recovering from the attack.
Most of those who died were Iraqi reporters working for US organisations and killed by insurgents' attacks, the CPJ said.
During 2004, 22 journalists were kidnapped in Iraq.
"What we've seen this year is the deliberate targeting of Iraqis who work with westerners and that includes Iraqis working with the western media," said executive director Ann Cooper.
The figures followed claims on Thursday by the UK's top general that media reports of military operations in Iraq have made British troops more vulnerable to attack.
The comments by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Michael Walker, were rejected by the National Union of Journalists.
The second most dangerous country to report from was the Philippines, where eight journalists were killed.
Paul Klebnikov, 41, editor of Forbes Russia, was the only US reporter killed
He was gunned down in Moscow in July following a distinguished career investigating some of Russia's wealthiest people.
The figures only include journalists killed as a direct result of their work, and omits those who died in accidents, their drivers and translators.
In 1994, the year with the heaviest death toll since records began, 66 journalists were killed,
mainly in conflicts in Algeria, Rwanda and Bosnia.