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. His book, The New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom, will be released November 11, 2014. Follow him on Twitter @Joelcpj. His public GPG encryption key can be found here.

2010


Blog   |   Ethiopia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela

CPJ Press Freedom Awardee: 'I always wanted answers'

Left to right: Nadira Isayeva, Dawit Kebede, and Laureano Márquez in Washington. (CPJ/Rodney Lamkey Jr.)

The last few weeks have been extremely busy for everyone at CPJ as we've been preparing for the 2010 International Press Freedom Awards. Today's press conference in Washington will be followed by a series of events culminating in our awards ceremony Tuesday in New York. As always, the awardees make it special. 

Blog   |   Mexico

Alfredo Corchado: 'Trust No One'

On Monday, the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington hosted a panel discussion on the press freedom crisis in Mexico. Carlos Lauría and I spoke about CPJ report "Silence or Death in the Mexican Press" and the results of our meeting in September with President Felipe Calderón. Dolía Estevez described the event in a blog she posted yesterday. I was struck by the remarks made by Dallas Morning News correspondent Alfredo Corchado, one of Mexico's bravest and best reporters. Excerpts from his prepared remarks are below:

November 11, 2010 11:02 AM ET

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Blog   |   Journalist Assistance, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Russia, Uganda

Help journalists in need: An appeal

Beketov must be transported to trial in an ambulance while his attackers walk free. (Foundation in Support of Mikhail Beketov)

Mikhail Beketov is lucky to be alive, although I'm sure there are days when he doesn't think so. On November 13, 2008, the environmental reporter who campaigned against a highway that would have destroyed a forest in Khimki, a town outside Moscow, was beaten nearly to death by men with metal bars. The attackers made a special effort to destroy his hands and left him to die in the November cold. He would have if neighbors had not noticed him and called the police 24 hours after the attack.

Blog   |   Philippines

Remembering Philippine prosecutor Leo Dacera

CMFR

Leo Dacera, a senior state prosecutor and head of the witness protection program for the Philippine Department of Justice, died suddenly on November 4. Initial news reports said Dacera, 54, left, was the victim of an apparent heart attack. Dacera's untimely death is a tremendous blow to all those seeking to end the culture of impunity in Philippine journalist murders. 

Blog   |   CPJ, Equatorial Guinea

Obiang prize suspended indefinitely

The Obiang prize, named for and funded by one of Africa's most notorious dictators, was a very poor idea from the start and our goal, bluntly, was to kill it. We didn't quite succeed in getting an outright cancellation, but the prize, while technically alive, is in a deep coma with virtually no chance of recovery. How the prize came to a halt is detailed in a press release available on the website of the Open Society Institute's Justice Initiative, but here's the story in a nutshell.

October 21, 2010 12:55 PM ET

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Blog   |   Russia

Mission Journal: A visit to Russia's Supreme Court

Chief Justice Vyacheslav M. Lebedev of Russia's Supreme Court told CPJ, "The independence of journalists is just as important as the independence of judges." (Reuters/Mackson Wasa)

At the end of our recent mission to Moscow, our delegation squeezed in one final official meeting. Vyacheslav M. Lebedev, the chief justice of Russia's Supreme Court, had sent word only the night before that he would receive us. The meeting had been brokered by Aleksei Venediktov, the legendary founder of the radio station Ekho Moskvy, who told us that Lebedev had a keen interest in freedom of expression issues.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, UK

As with Norgrove, a need to probe Munadi death

A photo of Sultan Mohammed Munadi at a 2009 prayer service for him. (AP/Musadeq Sadeq)

This morning, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that British aid worker Linda Norgrove, who died in a rescue attempt after she was taken hostage in Afghanistan, may have been killed by a U.S. grenade rather than by her Taliban captors, as originally reported.

Blog   |   Mexico

Mission Journal: Calderón sees a national threat

Journalists protest anti-press violence in Tijuana. (AP/Guillermo Arias)

Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa had a message to deliver and it wasn't about press freedom. After hearing the concerns presented by a joint delegation from CPJ and the Miami-based Inter American Press Association last week, the president wanted us to know something: He didn't go looking for a fight against the drug cartels.

September 26, 2010 5:32 PM ET

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Blog   |   India

Attacks on the rise in India’s Orissa state

Everything, it seems, is growing in India. Bucking global trends, India’s media are expanding rapidly, reaching into the hinterlands following a wave of development and growing literacy. Industrial development is expanding, with explosive growth of mining and natural resource extraction. In Orissa state, historically poor and restive, these two trends are colliding, producing a spike in media attacks, according to a new report by journalist Geeta Seshu.

August 3, 2010 9:09 AM ET

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Blog   |   Iran, USA

Three hikers in Iran, one year on

American hikers Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd wait to see their mothers at a hotel in Tehran, in May. (AP/Press TV)On July 30, three American hikers in Iran will have endured an entire year in custody, held without charge or a modicum of due process. This is obviously a terrible injustice, so much so that it surprises me when I mention their situation to skeptical friends or colleagues who believe that the three were foolish to hike along the Iranian border and should have anticipated the consequences.
July 27, 2010 3:27 PM ET

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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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Blog   |   CPJ

With new head, how will UNESCO fare on press freedom?

Bokova (AP)

Irina Bokova is the quintessential diplomat—elegant, gracious, and fluent in five languages. But she must have a sharp elbow or two to have emerged victorious in the rough-and-tumble battle last September to lead UNESCO, the Paris-based U.N. agency that promotes culture, education, science, and, occasionally, press freedom around the world.

January 20, 2010 1:56 PM ET

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Blog   |   Haiti, Journalist Assistance

How to help journalists in Haiti

A man sits amid the rubble in Port-au-Prince. (AP)

The scenes from Port-au-Prince are horrifying, and the needs are staggering. There is no food, no water, no place to bury the dead. And there is also no information. According to CPJ’s Senior Americas Program Coordinator Carlos Lauria, who spoke with Haitian journalist Guylar Delva today, only a handful of Creole-language radio stations are operating. Journalists are unable to work because they have been personally devastated—their homes have collapsed or their loved ones have died. 

January 15, 2010 2:25 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Iran

Reaching out to CPJ’s award winner, imprisoned in Iran

AP

The relentless crackdown on the press in Iran is, well, relentless. In the last few days we have received word that 11 more journalists have been arrested, including former CPJ International Press Freedom Award winner Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, at left.

There are 23 other journalists already in prison in Iran, according to the global census CPJ carried out on December 1. Scores of other journalists have been arrested and released; mores still have been intimidated, beaten and harassed.