The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) listed 44 journalists either murdered or killed while covering dangerous situations.
Another 31 deaths took place in circumstances that may have been connected to work.
Leading the death toll was Pakistan with eight slain, followed by Iraq with five, Honduras, Mexico and Indonesia with three each, and Somalia with two.
The total number of reporters killed was much lower than in 2009, when the record figure of 72 worldwide was skewed by a one-off massacre in the Philippines.
In an introduction to the annual CPJ report, Al Jazeera host Riz Khan said the explosion of online and digital media has made old-fashioned censorship much more difficult to achieve, but that violence continues.
"More and more, intimidation has become the tool of choice: scare journalists into staying away from a story; make sure they understand their interference is not welcome. A few dead bodies along the way should help," he said.
Mr Khan says the most vulnerable reporters are local employees rather than famous international correspondents.
"International correspondents are often visitors who don't file on a daily basis and aren't as deep into the stories or issues," he said.
"They can simply be refused an entry visa into a country. The true champions, resisting the threats and pressures every day, are the local reporters."