CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Frank Smyth

Frank Smyth is CPJ’s senior adviser for journalist security. He has reported on armed conflicts, organized crime, and human rights from nations including El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Cuba, Rwanda, Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Jordan, and Iraq. Follow him on Twitter @JournoSecurity.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and First Lady Janet Kagame lay a wreath at a genocide memorial in Kigali on April 7. (AFP/Simon Maina)

"Do not forget the genocide," said the voice of a state broadcast announcer in Kigali crackling through a cheap car radio, referring to the organized slaughter 20 years ago of more than 10 percent of the population. "We are all one now," he said, speaking in Rwanda's common language of Kinyarwanda, and meaning that Rwandans no longer identify themselves as being either Hutu or Tutsi.

Protesters take cover amid clashes with police in Kiev on February 20. (AFP/Sergei Supinsky)

Covering street violence is one thing. Covering gunfire is another. This week, firearms were unexpectedly introduced into ongoing clashes between protesters and police in two parts of the world, raising the threat level faced by journalists trying to cover events.

Training journalists how to better cover gender-based violence can help challenge attitudes that foster sexual attacks. Helping journalists learn personal skills to safely navigate sexual aggression can help prevent them from becoming victims themselves.

The biggest storm this year in the Southwest Pacific, and one of the biggest storms on record anywhere, is expected to hit land in the central Philippines Friday morning.

Two murdered journalists for the Africa service of Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont, 51, and Claude Verlon, 58, might have had a chance. They were abducted on November 2 in Kidal in northern Mali, but the vehicle their captors were driving suddenly broke down, according to news reports.

Border crossings have long posed a risk for journalists. In many nations, reporters and photographers alike have been subjected to questioning and having their electronic devices searched, if not also copied. But more recently, protecting electronically stored data has become a greater concern for journalists, including those who are U.S. citizens, upon entering or leaving the United States.

The flash or, more precisely, the lack of one, gave the policeman away.

Over a year ago, on a steamy Saturday night in the Bronx, New York City Police Officer Michael Ackermann claimed that a photojournalist had set off his flash repeatedly in the officer's face, blinding and distracting him, as he was arresting a teenage girl. So he arrested Robert Stolarik, a freelancer photographer for The New York Times, on charges of obstructing government administration and resisting arrest.

The home page of SKeyes' interactive 'Journalist Survival Guide.'

A new English/Arabic online tool is available for citizen journalists who have no previous journalism experience or training but are reporting dangerous frontline stories. It uses animation--a novelty for such guides--and its arrival is timely.

Tahrir Square erupts after the army ousts Morsi. (AP/Amr Nabil)

From São Paulo to Istanbul to Cairo, coverage of street demonstrations has re-emerged as an exceptionally dangerous assignment for journalists. Since June 1, CPJ has documented more than 120 attacks on the press amid the civil unrest in Brazil, Turkey, and Egypt--the biggest surge of attacks in such circumstances since the uprisings that swept the Arab world in 2011. My colleague Özgür Öğret described the danger in Turkish streets last week, and CPJ issued several alerts on assaults on the press in Brazil. The massive protests in Egypt have already resulted in more than three dozen anti-press attacks, including one fatality, and bring to mind the record-setting violence of two years ago.

Finally, there is an organization for freelancers run by freelancers, and it could not come at a more opportune time. As anyone who has been one knows, being a freelance conflict reporter, in particular, can be tricky business.

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