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CPJ

2011


Kassahun Yilma left Ethiopia quickly in December 2009. He didn't have time to save money for the journey, choose a place to go, arrange housing or a job. He left his wife, his mother, his house and all his friends behind. Yilma didn't know what lay ahead. He only knew that if he stayed, he risked becoming a victim of a government-waged campaign against Addis Neger, the newspaper where he worked as a reporter.  "I ran away just to save my life," says Yilma, "because I was in fear for it."

Blog | CPJ, USA


Press freedom groups worldwide are banding together today, the International Day to End Impunity, to demand justice for hundreds of journalists murdered for their work. On this day, the Committee to Protect Journalists and dozens of other members of the International Freedom of Information Exchange are remembering journalists killed, and urging governments to take action against those responsible for their deaths. We are also looking for lessons learned in past fights--like the one led by a group of journalists from the San Francisco Bay area, who battled tirelessly to ensure that justice was served in the slaying of their colleague Chauncey Bailey.

CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards dinner took place at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

The Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria might seem like an odd venue to stage a call for resistance. Nine hundred people in tuxedos and gowns. Champagne and cocktails. Bill Cunningham snapping photos. This combination is generally more likely to coax a boozy nostalgia than foment a revolution. But the journalists honored last night at CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards had a clear message to their colleagues: Fight the power.

Blog | CPJ

On November 23, 2009, Esmael Mangudadatu decided to register his candidacy for governor of Maguindanao, in the southern Philippines. Because his rivals from the Ampuatan clan had pledged to block him from filing the papers, he dispatched his female relatives, believing that they would not be harmed. He also thought it would increase security to invite journalists along, and several press cars joined the caravan.

When a bug fix can save a journalist's life

One of the most exciting aspects of working on Internet technologies is how quickly the tools you build can spread to millions of users worldwide. It's a heady experience, one that has occurred time and again here in Silicon Valley. But there's also responsibility that attaches to that excitement. For every hundred thousand cases in which a tool improves someone's day, there is another case in which it's used in a life-or-death situation. And for online journalists working on high-risk material, or in high-risk places, that life may be their own or that of a source. That's why CPJ, together with Alexey Tikhonov from Kazakhstan's Respublika, Esra'a al-Shafei from the pan-Arab forum MidEast Youth, and activist Rami Nakhle from Syria, spent this week visiting and meeting with technologists, entrepreneurs, and thinkers in Silicon Valley.

Blog | CPJ

Representatives from U.N. agencies, member states, and nongovernmental organizations convened on Tuesday at the United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity to plan how to address journalist security. Participants of the meeting, which was convened by UNESCO at its Paris headquarters, also discussed how the United Nations could promote greater interaction among its organizations to further improve press freedom around the world.

Blog | CPJ

By the late '90s, the Committee to Protect Journalists was solving many of its financial problems and building a strong list of dependable contributors. It became possible to consider expanding our activities. Up to this point we were fighting for a free press around the globe mainly by focusing attention on governments that were imprisoning or killing journalists. We wrote letters to hostile governments. We sent board and staff members abroad several times a year to pressure officials into releasing jailed journalists. We published our annual book, Attacks on the Press, and announced our yearly lists of enemies of the press. All of this was vitally important, of course. We were helping to free and protect journalists by generating publicity about their cases.

New York, July 18, 2011--Five distinguished leaders of new and traditional media worldwide have joined the board of directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists. The new members--John Carroll, Arianna Huffington, Jonathan Klein, Mhamed Krichen, and Jacob Weisberg--join a roster of remarkable journalists and news executives playing a vital role in CPJ's fight for press freedom.

A fighter regains his footing, but his voice is stilled. (CPJ/Nina Ognianova)

Mikhail Beketov can walk now--using an artificial leg and propping himself on crutches. He's moving around his house in the Moscow suburb of Khimki. It was here, in his front yard, where the newspaper editor was attacked two years and seven months ago. It was in this yard where assailants left him for dead. The fact that Beketov can stand on his own again is testament to the sheer strength of the man, whom friends describe as a born fighter. He could be obstinate, they say, and that's why he would never turn away from what he believes in.

Subjectivity, advocacy in covering human rights

The tension between objective news reporting and advocacy was the subject of the final plenary panel that I moderated last week at the Global Media Forum in Bonn. Sponsored by Germany's multi-language, government broadcast agency, Deutsche Welle, the three-day conference brought together journalists and experts from every continent to address but not necessarily resolve the media's role in covering human rights abuses.

New York, June 16, 2011--Sandra Mims Rowe, a distinguished editor with a record of journalistic and civic leadership, has been elected chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Rowe succeeds Paul Steiger, president and editor-in-chief of ProPublica. Steiger served as CPJ chairman since 2005.

In conjunction with the release of its special report, “The Silencing Crime: Sexual Violence and Journalists,” CPJ is issuing an addendum to its existing journalist security guide. The addendum, written by CPJ Journalist Security Coordinator Frank Smyth, addresses the issue of sexual aggression against journalists and focuses on ways to minimize the risk.The addendum, published below, is also available in the full text of CPJ’s online security guide. 

| CPJ

In journalist security field, maturing and understanding

Journalists are facing increasing risk at public demonstrations. Here, a March rally in Islamabad to denounce the CIA. (Reuters/Mian Khursheed)

Journalist security is still a maturing field, but news organizations are devoting more attention to preparing their reporters and photographers for the dangers particular to the profession. That means understanding risks that are constantly evolving. The brutal attack on CBS correspondent Lara Logan at a Cairo demonstration has drawn worldwide attention to the issue of sexual assault against journalists--CPJ issued new guidelines on the threat today--but the case also points to an emerging, if lesser-known threat. In the past 18 months, more journalists have been killed covering violent demonstrations and other non-military events than at any time since CPJ began keeping detailed records two decades ago.

Legendary Agence France-Presse correspondents Bernard Estrade died last week in Paris after a long illness. He was one of the great reporters of his era and a great friend of CPJ.

At SXSW Interactive, theory and reality converge

I've just returned from a hectic week at SXSW Interactive, the annual gathering of digital technologists and creators in Austin, Texas. Conferences like this are often moments of isolation from the rest of the world, where attendees become consumed with the trivia of the event itself. But because many of those attending SXSWi are prolific online journalists, bloggers, and social media users, the conference's self-obsession doesn't stay confined to Austin. One tech startup even offered a browser plugin that would hide any Twitter with the "#SXSW" tags to hide the constant chatter from the rest of the world.

Blog | CPJ

CPJ founders and board members along with supporters and friends filed into Columbia University's Italian Academy on Thursday for a series of events to mark the 30 years of CPJ's existence. The celebration started with a 20-minute sneak peek at a feature-length documentary about CPJ that will be released later this year. 

New York, February 15, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by news that CBS correspondent and CPJ board member Lara Logan was sexually assaulted and beaten in Cairo on Friday while covering rallies marking the resignation of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. "We have seen Lara's compassion at work while helping journalists who have faced brutal aggression while doing their jobs," CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger said. "She is a brilliant, courageous, and committed reporter. Our thoughts are with Lara as she recovers."

Umar Cheema

When we launched the new edition of Attacks on the Press at the United Nations today, I was hit with questions about Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Both dealt with what amounts to the same problem: What do you do when you're asking a government to investigate a crime in which it might have been the perpetrator? 

The Sri Lanka question came first. What is happening in the case of Prageeth Eknelygoda, a critical cartoonist and columnist who disappeared more than a year ago? The question starts around 17:07 on the U.N.'s archived webcast of the event. The Pakistan question, which starts at around 33:55, addresses the case of Umar Cheema, another critical columnist. Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka get ample coverage in this year's Attacks on the Press.

Blog | CPJ


At a U.N. press conference today, CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger announces the release of Attacks on the Press. He's joined by CPJ's Joel Simon, Bob Dietz, and Mohamed Abdel Dayem.

This afternoon we sent out a press release announcing a $100,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to support CPJ's Global Campaign Against Impunity. The campaign enters its third year in 2011, having achieved some significant successes, including high-level commitment to prosecute the killers of journalist in the Philippines and Russia. Our goal in the year ahead is to turn those commitments into results.

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