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.

Blog   |   CPJ, El Salvador, Security

Solidarity, a key to security, eludes Salvadoran press

Visitors look at an exhibit displaying the bloodstained clothes of the Jesuit priests murdered by the Salvadoran military in 1989. (AP/Luis Romero)

No other journalists are remembered quite like this. Visitors looking through the glass display at the Monsignor Romero Center & Martyrs Museum in San Salvador see the pajamas and other clothes that three Jesuit university priests were wearing when they were shot down by automatic rifle fire. A series of clear containers are filled with dark blades of grass cut from the campus lawn where each had spilled his blood.

Blog   |   CPJ, Security, USA

Should J-School grads just get up and go overseas?

Photographers take cover behind a barricade during a protest in Egypt last year. Journalists are often forced to take deadly risks when working in war zones, usually with limited training and no insurance. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

The guidance is hardly clear. At a Columbia University event last week pegged to the release of the new CPJ Journalist Security Guide, one journalism student said he and his classmates are getting contradictory advice. Many J-school professors, he said, have encouraged him and others to just get up, go overseas, and try to make it as a freelancer. But the experienced journalists speaking at the event advised caution.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, CPJ, Egypt, El Salvador, Security, Syria, USA

Why journalists need new ways to stay safe

Gang members at a prison in Izalco shortly after a government-brokered truce. (Reuters/Ulises Rodriguez)

After the Salvadoran online newsmagazine El Faro exposed a secret government deal with criminal gangs last month, its staff faced repercussions that illustrate the new and complicated risks facing journalists worldwide. El Faro's report, which said the government provided more lenient treatment of imprisoned gangsters in exchange for the groups' agreement to slow down their murderous practices, addressed one of the most sensitive topics facing journalists today--crime and its many interconnections with government.

Blog   |   Security, Syria, USA

From Small World, timely advice on safe satphone use

Journalists and technologists often speak different languages. But a Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit, Small World News, is bridging the gap with a new guide on the safe use of satellite phones. It comes at a critical time.

The group's Guide to Safely Using Satphones just went online, less than three weeks after the deaths of international journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik in Homs, Syria. Several journalists who worked in Homs suspected the Syrian government targeted the building where Colvin, Ochlik, and other journalists were working. If government forces indeed targeted the building, they could have relied on several forms of intelligence, including the tracking of journalists' satellite signals.

March 13, 2012 2:43 PM ET

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Blog   |   Security, Syria

Caveat utilitor: Satellite phones can always be tracked

The Telegraph in London was the first to report that Syrian government forces could have "locked on" to satellite phone signals to launch the rocket attacks that killed journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, as well as many Syrian civilians, besides wounding dozens more including two more international journalists. Working out of a makeshift press center in Homs, foreign correspondents and local citizen journalists alike have been using satellite phones to send images of attacks on civilians around the world.

Blog   |   Egypt, Libya, Security, Syria, UK, USA

To quote Marie Colvin: 'What is bravery, and what bravado?'

Not since the worst period of the Iraq war, or in the Balkans the decade before, have so many storied journalists been killed or seriously injured in such a short period of time. Inevitably, the spate of deaths leaves many journalists asking questions about whether and how much they are willing to risk their own lives, and possibly the lives of others. Many experienced journalists might agree on one thing: the decisions one makes about risk are among the most intimate decisions they will ever make.

Blog   |   China, Colombia, Mexico, Security, USA

For journalists, cyber-security training slow to take hold

For centuries, journalists have been willing to go to prison to protect their sources. Back in 1848, New York Herald correspondent John Nugent spent a month in jail for refusing to tell a U.S. Senate committee his source for a leak exposing the secret approval of a treaty with Mexico. In a digital age, however, journalists need more than steadfast conviction to keep themselves and their sources safe. Government intelligence agencies, terrorist groups, and criminal syndicates are using electronic surveillance to learn what journalists are doing and who their sources are.  It seems many journalists are not keeping pace.

Blog   |   Security

Can't an aspiring war correspondent get some fresh advice?

My role has changed. Over the past decade, I handled both Washington advocacy and journalist security issues for CPJ. Now I focus exclusively on the latter. Today's entry is the first in what will be a regular look at the dangers journalists face worldwide and the resources available to address those risks. How to Avoid Being Killed in a War Zone is one such resource, a war correspondent's survival guide published in 2011 that offers fresh, reported, and at times irreverent advice. 

2012

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