The two venues for the launch of Attacks on the Press in New York couldn’t have
been more different. On
Tuesday morning I was joined by Newsweek’s Maziar Bahari, and CPJ Asia
Program Coordinator Bob Dietz in the hushed auditorium of the Dag Hammarskjöld
Library at United Nations headquarters. The event was so well attended by the U.N.
press corps that we ran out of copies of the book. The press
conference went for more than an hour until I was slipped a note
saying the U.N. spokesman needed the podium for the U.N. daily briefing.
The three of us then moved uptown to Columbia University,
leaving the formality of a briefing room for the relaxed atmosphere of the
student lounge of the Graduate School of Journalism complete with noises off
from the cappuccino machine in the coffee bar.
Former CPJ executive director and Columbia professor Ann Cooper hosted us for a
panel discussion with students who got to hear firsthand from Maziar what it is
like to work in an authoritarian state that parades journalists before the
cameras at mass show trials, and coerces them to sign confessions.
Maziar captivated this next generation with his
matter-of-fact retelling of his ordeal in prison after the disputed
presidential election of June last year. You can read a student’s account here.