CPJ Update

CPJ Update
May 18, 2004
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists


The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) yesterday published a report examining the dangers faced by local journalists covering the conflict in Iraq. The report, titled “Under Threat,” was written by Joel Campagna, CPJ’s senior program coordinator responsible for the Middle East and North Africa, and Middle East and North Africa Research Associate Hani Sabra.

Campagna and Sabra based the report on extensive interviews with Iraqi journalists, foreign correspondents, and editors. All note that Iraqi journalists have been playing a larger role in newsgathering as hostilities against foreign journalists have intensified there in recent months. These Iraqi members of the press frequently endure harassment, threats, or attacks at the hands of both coalition forces and Iraqi insurgents. As a result, a number of Iraqi staffers-mainly those working with international news organizations-have quit their work or now take great precautions not to be identified with their employers. A few have even fled the country.

The full report is available at: http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2004/iraq_journ_5_04/iraq_journ_5_04.html.


On World Press Freedom Day, May 3, CPJ named Iraq one of the World’s Worst Places to be a Journalist, highlighting the dangers that members of the media face there. Since the war began, 27 journalists have been killed. To assist journalists and editors, CPJ has introduced “Iraq Security Updates,” a new resource in the “Conflict in Iraq” section of its Web site. This new feature provides timely information about security matters inside Iraq.

CPJ will post updates by private security firms active in the region as they become available. The security updates can be found at: http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2003/gulf03/iraq_security.html.


On April 28, the Correspondents Fund granted $5,000 to Jean Roland Chery, a reporter for Radio HaÔti-Inter who fled Haiti last year after armed men threatened him and his colleagues. The fund also approved a grant of $4,000 to Pierre Elisem, a radio reporter from Cap Haitien who was shot in the neck by supporters of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The money will help Chery, who was recently granted political asylum in the United States, to bring his wife and daughter from Haiti to join him and will allow Elisem to continue physical therapy in the Dominican Republic. Elisabeth Witchel, CPJ’s journalist assistance coordinator, traveled to the Dominican Republic in March to visit Elisem. She wrote about her trip in the upcoming issue of CPJ’s biannual magazine, Dangerous Assignments, which will be available June 1.


Sauro Gonz·lez RodrÌguez, CPJ’s Americas researcher, traveled to Colombia on April 17 on a joint research mission to verify press freedom conditions in the city of Barrancabermeja, an oil town in the central part of the country. The mission included three other press freedom organizations: Reporters sans FrontiËres, the Bogot·-based FundaciÛn para la Libertad de Prensa, and the Lima, Peru-based Instituto Prensa y Sociedad. The group recently published a report titled, “Barrancabermeja: la voz que se resiste a callar” (Barrancabermeja: the Voice that Refuses to be Silenced).


CPJ’s board has welcomed two new members:

Andrew Alexander, the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Cox Newspapers, has reported from more than 50 countries and covered conflicts in Vietnam, Angola, Iran, and Iraq.

Norman Pearlstine is the editor-in-chief of Time Inc. and oversees the editorial content of TIME, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, People, In Style, Money, and Entertainment Weekly.


CPJ is grateful to the Open Society Institute for a $20,000 grant to conduct a mission and needs assessment on journalist security in Iraq; to the McCormick Tribune Foundation for a two-year, $160,000 grant; and to board member Tom Brokaw, who donated $75,000 in commencement speaker fees to CPJ.