CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Joel Simon

Joel Simon is the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He has written widely on media issues, contributing to Slate, Columbia Journalism Review, The New York Review of Books, World Policy Journal, Asahi Shimbun, and The Times of India. He has led numerous international missions to advance press freedom. Follow him on Twitter @Joelcpj.

Blog   |   Equatorial Guinea

UNESCO's dictator prize put on hold

Bokova (AP)

Irina Bokova, UNESCO's director-general, delivered a firm message on Tuesday to representatives from UNESCO's 58-member executive board assembled at the organization's Paris headquarters: Bestowing the Obiang International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences, named for and financed by one of the most repressive leaders in Africa, would do grave damage to the organization.

Blog   |   China, Equatorial Guinea, Mexico, Syria, Zimbabwe

Cano laureates say no to UNESCO Obiang prize

Cano winner Lydia Cacho signed a letter protesting the prize. (CPJ)Each year, UNESCO honors a courageous international journalist with the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, named in honor of the Colombian editor murdered in 1986 by the Medellín Cartel. The prize is chosen by an independent jury and over the years I've attended several moving ceremonies in which some of the most daring journalists of our generation have been honored. 

Blog   |   Iran, USA

Iran isn't laughing at The Daily Show

The Daily Show’s Jason Jones mocks journalistic conventions to hilarious effect. But Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are not known for their sense of humor, and let’s just say they didn’t get the joke.

May 19, 2010 5:28 PM ET

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Blog   |   Afghanistan, CPJ, Colombia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, USA

Jon Lee Anderson on courage and journalism

Last week, I attended an unusual event called the Courage Forum at which half a dozen speakers, from tightrope artist Philippe Petit and Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal to Virgin founder and chairman Richard Branson, talked about about overcoming fear.

May 12, 2010 10:00 AM ET

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Blog   |   Iraq

A distorted picture from Iraq

Farrell writes that “when the news turns bad, the police and other security forces do their best to make sure there is no one around to record it.” (AP)The Iraqi government is keeping photographers away from scenes of suicide attacks, according to a piece published today by Stephen Farrell on The New York Times’ “At War” blog. CPJ has objected to government regulations promulgated in May 2007 barring photographers from the scene of such bombings for an hour after they take place.
April 7, 2010 10:09 AM ET

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Blog   |   India

Circumventing India’s radio news ban

Shubhranshu Choudhary trains villagers to use their phones to disseminate and receive news. (Sakhi/Flickr)

Violence against provincial journalists, self-censorship, and the rise of paid news were the leading press freedom concerns cited by editors and journalists that I met with during my recent visit to India. But for Shubhranshu Choudhary, known as Shu, it’s the ban on radio news that most concerns him. He believes the ban is fueling India’s long-simmering Maoist insurgency, and he’s fighting back, using mobile phone technology to bring independent news to the tribal regions where the Maoists operate.

Blog   |   India

In India, news for sale

Sushma Swaraj, head of India's BJP party, says journalists encourage the "paid news" practice. (AFP) I just returned from India, where I spent a week meeting journalists and discussing press freedom concerns. One issue that emerged during my visit is what is known euphemistically as “paid news.”  Many media outlets routinely sell political advertising dressed up as a news article.

March 19, 2010 10:18 AM ET

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Blog   |   Burma

Burmese censorship at work

At a Tuesday meeting of the International Freedom to Publish Committee (a publishing industry group dedicated to free expression) in New York, Maureen Aung-Thwin handed out pages from Flower News, a Rangoon-based newspaper that had been marked up by Burmese government censors. Burma is the world’s second most censored country, according to a 2006 CPJ report. But you don’t have to read Burmese to understand what’s going on here. The red marks speak for themselves. Aung-Thwin is the director of the Burma project at the Open Society Institute and one of the world’s leading experts on that country. 

February 24, 2010 12:50 PM ET

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Blog   |   USA

Sean Penn and the paparazzi

Penn (Reuters)

In a thinly disguised effort to distract me during a poker game on Saturday night, a friend asked if CPJ was planning to take up the case of the photographer who was attacked by Sean Penn.

Frankly, this was the first time I’d heard of the incident that took place last October in which Penn allegedly kicked a photographer and smashed his camera. Penn was indicted on February 19, and will be arraigned on March 22. The altercation was captured on videotape and can be seen on TMZ.

February 23, 2010 11:25 AM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

Press freedom, new media in Tokyo

CPJ’s six-city launch of Attacks on the Press began today in Tokyo, where we hosted a panel discussion with Maria Ressa of ABS-CBN TV in the Philippines, Asahi Shimbun deputy foreign editor Nobuyoshi Sakajiri, NHK Middle East correspondent Nobuhisa Degawa, CPJ China expert Madeline Earp, and me.

February 16, 2010 8:56 AM ET

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