Seven of the 10 most censored countries-Eritrea, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iran, China, and Myanmar-are also among the top 10 worst jailers of journalists worldwide, according to CPJ's annual prison census
In Ethiopia--number four on CPJ's most censored list--the threat of imprisonment has contributed to a steep increase in the number of journalist exiles. Amid a broad crackdown on bloggers and independent publications in 2014, more than 30 journalists were forced to flee, CPJ research shows. Ethiopia's 2009 anti-terrorism law, which criminalizes any reporting that authorities deem to "encourage" or "provide moral support" to banned groups, has been levied against many of the 17 journalists in jail there.
How censorship works: As Ethiopia prepared for its May 2015 elections, the state systematically cracked down on the country's remaining independent publications through the arrests of journalists and intimidation of printing and distribution companies. Filing lawsuits against editors and forcing publishers to cease production have left only a handful of independent publications in a country of more than 90 million people. Ten independent journalists and bloggers were imprisoned in 2014; authorities filed a lawsuit in August accusing six publications of "encouraging terrorism," forcing at least 16 journalists to flee into exile. There are no independent broadcasters, though broadcasts from the U.S.-based opposition Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) intermittently air within the country. The state-controlled telecommunications company Ethio Telecom is the sole Internet provider and routinely suspends critical news websites. International journalists work in Ethiopia, but many are under surveillance and face harassment. Although journalists have not had difficulties acquiring accreditation in the past, newer arrivals say that they face challenges.
Lowlight: Authorities in 2014 unleashed the largest onslaught against the press since a crackdown in 2005 after disputed parliamentary elections. Ten independent journalists and bloggers were arrested on anti-state charges, and at least eight independent publications were shut down.
Whenever we set up our camera and flapped open our sun reflectors in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, passers-by became curious and eager to help.
But getting them to talk on camera was another matter as in general residents of the city are reticent and keep their views to themselves.
We were filming in Addis Ababa for a programme charting the changes in the country, yet it was only on the flight back to South Africa that I met an Ethiopian willing to be candid.
I found myself seated next to an inquisitive elderly Ethiopian woman, who was chatty despite the early morning departure.
However, she was not so open as to be willing for me to mention her name here.
She wore a green twin-set, leggings and woollen socks with her loafers. After the rigorous security checks, she took the socks off, saying she only wears them to keep her feet clean at the end of the security protocols.
She reminded me a bit of my mother, both caring and bossy all in one person.
During the flight, she cut me a portion of her fruit and insisted that I eat every morsel; her stern gaze suggested that I had no choice.
We talked about a lot of things, including my impressions of Nigeria, especially following the ground-breaking presidential election there when the incumbent lost.
She was proud of the manner in which Nigerians had used their vote to make a strong statement about their government.
I replied that perhaps if Ethiopians have strong views about the ruling party - the EPRDF, in power since 1991 - then they could also do the same when elections are held in May.