CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Frank Smyth

Frank Smyth is CPJ’s senior adviser for journalist security. He has reported on armed conflicts, organized crime, and human rights from nations including El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Cuba, Rwanda, Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Jordan, and Iraq. Follow him on Twitter @JournoSecurity.

2013


Blog   |   Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Sri Lanka

Journalists can help curb gender-based violence

Training journalists how to better cover gender-based violence can help challenge attitudes that foster sexual attacks. Helping journalists learn personal skills to safely navigate sexual aggression can help prevent them from becoming victims themselves.

Blog   |   Philippines

Philippine journalists prepare for Super Storm 'Yolanda'

The biggest storm this year in the Southwest Pacific, and one of the biggest storms on record anywhere, is expected to hit land in the central Philippines Friday morning.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, Angola, Burma, Cambodia, France, India, Iraq, Mali, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Syria

Training can help journalists survive captivity

Two murdered journalists for the Africa service of Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont, 51, and Claude Verlon, 58, might have had a chance. They were abducted on November 2 in Kidal in northern Mali, but the vehicle their captors were driving suddenly broke down, according to news reports.

Blog   |   USA

Knowing how law and technology meet at U.S. borders

Border crossings have long posed a risk for journalists. In many nations, reporters and photographers alike have been subjected to questioning and having their electronic devices searched, if not also copied. But more recently, protecting electronically stored data has become a greater concern for journalists, including those who are U.S. citizens, upon entering or leaving the United States.

Blog   |   USA

Police officer indicted over photojournalist's false arrest

The flash or, more precisely, the lack of one, gave the policeman away.

Over a year ago, on a steamy Saturday night in the Bronx, New York City Police Officer Michael Ackermann claimed that a photojournalist had set off his flash repeatedly in the officer's face, blinding and distracting him, as he was arresting a teenage girl. So he arrested Robert Stolarik, a freelancer photographer for The New York Times, on charges of obstructing government administration and resisting arrest.

Blog   |   Egypt, Syria

Animated journalist survival guide looks ahead

The home page of SKeyes' interactive 'Journalist Survival Guide.'

A new English/Arabic online tool is available for citizen journalists who have no previous journalism experience or training but are reporting dangerous frontline stories. It uses animation--a novelty for such guides--and its arrival is timely.

Blog   |   Brazil, Egypt, Turkey

Attacks in Egypt highlight risk of covering protests

Tahrir Square erupts after the army ousts Morsi. (AP/Amr Nabil)

From São Paulo to Istanbul to Cairo, coverage of street demonstrations has re-emerged as an exceptionally dangerous assignment for journalists. Since June 1, CPJ has documented more than 120 attacks on the press amid the civil unrest in Brazil, Turkey, and Egypt--the biggest surge of attacks in such circumstances since the uprisings that swept the Arab world in 2011. My colleague Özgür Öğret described the danger in Turkish streets last week, and CPJ issued several alerts on assaults on the press in Brazil. The massive protests in Egypt have already resulted in more than three dozen anti-press attacks, including one fatality, and bring to mind the record-setting violence of two years ago.

July 3, 2013 4:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   UK

In revolt, freelancers establish Frontline Freelance Register

Finally, there is an organization for freelancers run by freelancers, and it could not come at a more opportune time. As anyone who has been one knows, being a freelance conflict reporter, in particular, can be tricky business.

Blog   |   Internet, USA

Secrecy, scale of PRISM raise alarms

President Barack Obama defends NSA surveillance activities. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Government surveillance of electronic communications "should be regarded as a highly intrusive act that potentially interferes with the rights to freedom of expression and privacy and threatens the foundations of a democratic society," Frank La Rue, U.N. special rapporteur for freedom of expression, warned in a report issued less than two months ago. "States should be completely transparent about the use and scope of communications surveillance techniques and powers." At the time, the report might have called to mind nations such as China and Iran with high levels of state surveillance. But today, following revelations of a broad, secret digital surveillance program led by the U.S. National Security Agency, La Rue's words seem instead to have been a prescient rebuke of U.S. policies. 

June 7, 2013 7:19 AM ET

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Medill digital security guide helps fill journalism void

As the pace of technological innovation increases, several groups try to ensure journalists are offered tips on digital security. (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)

One day, every journalism school in the United States and beyond will offer a full three-credit, 15-week course in digital safety, along with more advanced classes. But that day has not yet come. Only a year ago, Alysia Santo reported in the Columbia Journalism Review that no American journalism school offered formal digital safety training. A number of groups, including CPJ, have tried to fill the void with digital security guides. This week, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University added to the resource stockpile with the publication of a guide that I've written, Digital Security Basics for Journalists.

Blog   |   CPJ

In 2 major efforts, journalist security tailored to fit

Two major security efforts coincide with World Press Freedom Day.

In the past, donors and groups providing security to journalists in less-developed nations tended to export a Western, military-style of training designed for a war-time environment. But the danger of covering combat is one thing. Being fired upon by a motorcycle-riding assassin is another--as is being sexually molested in a crowd, discovering a video camera in one's bedroom, or having one's phone calls intercepted. And then there is emotional toll of losing dear colleagues, and wondering whether you or your family will be next.

Blog   |   Internet, USA

So your Twitter account is hacked? Reset, tweet, pray.

More than a quarter million Twitter accounts have been hacked worldwide, the social media company disclosed in February, but Tuesday's attack on The Associated Press's verified account, @AP, had unusual effect. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 143 points after someone hijacked the AP's account to falsely tweet that two explosions at the White House had wounded President Barack Obama. The market recovered, but the hacking--just the latest in a series of attacks on news organizations--sent shudders through a profession that's grown accustomed to breaking its news on Twitter.

April 24, 2013 3:07 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, USA

Attacks on Knight Center sites reflect digital dangers

The two websites at the University of Texas at Austin, at first blush, seemed to have been unlikely targets for attack. The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and its blog cover news about journalism, press freedom and journalist safety throughout the Western hemisphere, with an emphasis on trends in Latin America. The website of the International Symposium for Online Journalism provides information about meetings and other professional issues. Both websites were shut down for two weeks last month in a targeted cyber-attack.

Blog   |   Iraq, USA

Iraq war and news media: A look inside the death toll

An Iraqi journalist walks past a wall of photos of journalists killed during the Iraq War. (AP/Samir Mizban)

The U.S.-led war in Iraq claimed the lives of a record number of journalists and challenged some commonly held perceptions about the risks of covering conflict. Far more journalists, for example, were murdered in targeted killings in Iraq than died in combat-related circumstances. Here, on the 10th anniversary of the start of the war, is a look inside the data collected by CPJ.

Blog   |   Kenya, Security

In tense climate, Kenyan press can draw on solidarity

A supporter of Raila Odinga, a presidential candidate who was defeated last week by Uhura Kenyatta. (AFP/Jennifer Huxta)

Amid a tense presidential election, Kenyans have avoided a repeat of the deadly violence that followed the vote in 2007, when half a million people were uprooted and more than 1,000 people were killed. Still, the situation today is fraught. Ethnic identity dominates the nation's political divisions--and those same loyalties can undermine solidarity in the press corps.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, Mexico, Security, Somalia, Syria

Do news blackouts help journalists held captive?

An image grab from a YouTube video uploaded on December 18 allegedly shows NBC employees, from left to right, Aziz Akyavas, Richard Engel, and John Kooistra in captivity in Syria. (AFP/YouTube)

At any given time over the past two years, as wars raged in Libya and then Syria, and as other conflicts ground on in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a number of journalists have been held captive by a diverse array of forces, from militants and rebels to criminals and paramilitaries. And at any given time, a small handful of these cases--sometimes one or two, sometimes more--have been purposely kept out of the news media. That is true today.