Spotlight on Giving

Q&A with a CPJ supporter

Dr. William Borucki, the former principal investigator of NASA's Kepler Mission, donated to CPJ part of the Shaw Prize in Astronomy he was awarded in June 2015.

Borucki, who spent more than five decades at NASA, advocated for years to develop a space mission that could detect Earth-size planets and determine the frequency of those planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars. The Kepler Mission was launched in 2009 and has confirmed more than 1,000 planets.

"We now know that most stars have planets, many planets are about the size of Earth, and that there are billions of planets in the habitable zone of their stars," Borucki told CPJ.

We spoke to Borucki about press freedom and his decision to support CPJ.

CPJ: After you received the Shaw Prize in Astronomy this year, you chose to donate parts of it to various organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, which promotes press freedom around the world. Can you tell us why you decided to donate a part of the prize to CPJ?

WB: For people to maintain their freedom and to accomplish worthwhile objectives, it is necessary to obtain an accurate and comprehensive picture of the situations we face. Thus, a free and unfettered press is required. Journalists who penetrate and report on difficult and complex situations make it possible for the public to respond appropriately. To succeed in getting the information, the journalists must be protected from those who would harm them in order to suppress information. My contribution is my way of helping to support the heroic journalists who make our freedom possible.

CPJ: We are very grateful for your generous support. Hundreds of journalists are killed, harassed, imprisoned, or attacked every year. We continue to work hard to hold killers accountable and ensure journalists are not imprisoned for their work. How did you hear of CPJ? Have you always been an advocate for press freedom?

WB: My wife and I hunted around for an organization that actively supported journalists in their efforts to get at the facts, especially in difficult circumstances. Your organization best fit that criterion.

CPJ: Thank you so much again for your time and support. If there's anything else you'd like to add, please feel free to do so below.

WB: Best wishes for success in protecting journalists.

To learn more about Dr. Borucki's work on the Kepler Mission, click here.

International Program Network

CPJ's International Program Network was initially launched with an endowed gift from Bloomberg.

A growing team of on-the-ground consultants and stringers helps CPJ respond in real time to press emergencies around the world. Working closely with the program staff at CPJ's headquarters in New York, the International Program Network advances our mission of promoting global press freedom by:

  • Improving our ability to report and investigate attacks on journalists wherever they occur.
  • Strengthening alliances with local and regional press freedom advocacy groups.
  • Enabling more timely, direct assistance to journalists in distress.
  • Meeting with local and international authorities to advocate directly for press safety.

Whether responding to a crisis or lending context to a regional threat, this network of experienced reporters and regional analysts has provided invaluable support to CPJ's work.

Here are just a few of their accomplishments:

Reporting from the scene

November 23, 2009, was the single deadliest day for journalists in recent history. Thirty-two journalists and media workers were systematically killed in a massacre in the Philippines province of Maguindanao. Within two days, CPJ's Southeast Asia Consultant Shawn Crispin, a veteran reporter based in Bangkok, was at the site of the massacre. Crispin helped coordinate an international investigation that found that family members of the victims had been offered financial inducements to drop their cases against the suspected killers. He has also closely followed the stalled efforts to bring those responsible to justice, keeping a spotlight on the conditions that allow the killing of journalists in the Philippines to go unpunished.

Direct assistance to journalists

East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes launched a Nairobi office in 2010, improving CPJ's ability to document and investigate threats to journalists in the region. In 2011, his work took him to South Sudan, where journalists are struggling to build a free press in the newly independent country. Just as important has been Rhodes' direct contact with a growing number of journalists in the region who have sought CPJ's help in leaving their home countries to escape violence and persecution. In coordination with international and regional assistance organizations, Rhodes has helped CPJ's Journalist Assistance program to support relocation efforts for journalists in exile and to provide medical care and emergency aid when needed.

In fall 2015, CPJ also had consultants, stringers, and representatives working in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Nigeria, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, and Hong Kong SAR.

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