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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.

With CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger as moderator, the event attracted Japanese and foreign media. We covered a broad range of topics—from an unprecedented death toll fueled by the Maguindanao massacre in the Philippines to the crackdown in Iran—but we eventually circled back to a question that has come up in media interviews I’ve done here in Japan.

How are new technologies and the rise of social media changing the press freedom landscape?

Simon during the press conference hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. (Reuters)

Some of the changes are well-known and well documented—citizen journalists sending photos of street demonstrations in Iran, for example.  We also discussed the sharp increase in the jailing of online journalists, particularly freelancers, around the world.

But new technologies are also changing the way CPJ carries out its press freedom advocacy. This is the subject of my introduction to Attacks on the Press which you can find here.  

The reality in today’s media environment is that getting your message out is more complex and challenging. But there are new and exciting opportunities to engage a broad section of the public by using both traditional and new media in ways that are mutually reinforcing. That’s one reason we are doing different targeted events to mark the publication of Attacks on the Press in Tokyo, New York, Brussels, Bogotá, Cairo, and Nairobi. We are also tweeting and blogging about our findings.

The strategy for promoting our research is evolving, but the goal is the same: We want to highlight the worst abusers, places such as the Philippines where journalists are killed with impunity, and Iran, which has launched the largest press crackdown in recent history. Through whatever means available, our mission remains to bring these abuses to the attention of the international public.

(Reporting from Tokyo)

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