CPJ Update

CPJ Update
September 16, 2005
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

Mexico’s Fox pledges action after CPJ meeting

After meeting with a CPJ delegation at our offices on Thursday, Mexican President Vicente Fox said he will urge his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate crimes against free expression.

The president’s pledge follows a series of deadly attacks against journalists in the country’s northern states–and several months of investigation and advocacy by CPJ staff. Fox also pledged to consider creation of a panel of national experts to evaluate how federal authorities can become more involved in fighting crimes against the press.

The visit was the first by a head of state to CPJ offices.

Paul Steiger, CPJ chairman and Wall Street Journal managing editor, headed the delegation. It also included Executive Director Ann Cooper; Deputy Director Joel Simon; Americas Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría, and board members Josh Friedman, Cheryl Gould, Michael Massing, Geraldine Fabrikant-Metz, and Franz Allina

Read our news alert.

CPJ: U.S. military fails to probe journalist killings in Iraq

The U.S. military has not fully investigated the killing of journalists by its forces in Iraq, nor has it followed up on its own recommendations to improve press safety, CPJ found in an analysis issued Wednesday. U.S. troops have killed 13 journalists since the war began in March 2003. At least 40 other journalists have been killed covering the conflict.

The analysis, by senior program coordinator Joel Campagna, was picked up The Associated Press and Reuters. “In most cases,” Campagna writes, “the U.S. military has either failed to investigate journalists’ deaths or it has not made its inquiries public The findings from the few investigations that have been released have not credibly addressed questions of accountability for shooting deaths, and whether U.S. forces are taking necessary measures to differentiate between combatants and civilians in conflict areas.”

Read the summary:

Read the case-by-case analysis.

Marash, Smyth: Safety of journalists in the Americas is crucial

Safety for local journalists throughout the Americas is an overlooked but crucial issue, board member David Marash and Journalist Security Coordinator Frank Smyth told a crowd of reporters and media executives at a September 9 panel on “Finding Solutions for Journalist Safety” at the Museum of Television & Radio in Manhattan. While much attention is focused on U.S. correspondents’ security in Iraq, they noted that safety concerns are urgent for local reporters in places from Colombia to Bangladesh.

Sponsored by the International News Safety Institute, the discussion explored the reasons behind the deaths of journalists in the Americas and worldwide. John Roberts, chief White House correspondent for CBS News, moderated the discussion. Other panelists included NBC News correspondent Ron Allen, New York Times Deputy Foreign Editor Ethan Bronner, CNN International Managing Director Chris Cramer, and NPR Senior Foreign Editor Loren Jenkins.

Our view: Saudi government, editors can build a free press

The Saudi government can improve press freedom by halting its interference in the daily operations of newspapers and scrapping the practice of appointing editors-in-chief, says CPJ’s Campagna in a new commentary. Writing for the Arabic news Web site Elaph.com, Campagna also urged Saudi editors to accept the challenge by scrutinizing the government more closely

Read Campagna’s op-ed.

Campagna, senior program coordinator for Middle East and North Africa, traveled to Saudi Arabia for two weeks this summer in CPJ’s first mission to the country. His special report will be released later this year.

Mission reveals advances for Indonesian journalists in Aceh

Our Asia consultant, Shawn Crispin, has found that many Aceh news outlets are enjoying greater freedom in the months after the devastating December 2004 tsunami. Crispin traveled in the conflict-ridden Indonesian region for seven days last month to assess press conditions in the aftermath of the catastrophe.

Across Aceh, he found, reporters worked under extraordinarily difficult conditions to provide desperately needed news and information. Foreign aid workers credited the media’s response–including the dissemination of important public health and relocation announcements–for staving off the outbreak of disease and helping maintain order. The thirst for news about the reconstruction has also fostered a flowering of the local media. In the aftermath, the Indonesian government eased some of the restrictions it had imposed on news reporting from Aceh.

Crispin’s report, “After the Tsunami,” will be featured in the new edition of our magazine, Dangerous Assignments, due out this fall.

Staff News

We are pleased to welcome Aprill Turner as interim communications coordinator. Turner will be with us for the rest of 2005, assisting with preparations for the International Press Freedom Awards Dinner. She is a graduate of Howard University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in legal communication, and George Washington University, where she received a master’s in campaign management and fundraising. Turner recently relocated from Washington, D.C., where she has spent the last five years as an aide to U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi of California, and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.

We also welcome Ivan Karakashian as our new Middle East research associate. Karakashian was born and reared in Jerusalem, where he grew up speaking Arabic. He is a graduate of the University of Nottingham in England, where he received a bachelor’s degree, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He has worked as a researcher on Middle East issues for MIFTAH, The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy.

Save the Date

This year’s International Press Freedom Awards Dinner will be Tuesday, November 22, at the Waldorf- Astoria in Manhattan. CPJ will honor journalists who have risked their lives to report the news. To purchase a table or reserve a ticket, please contact us at: [email protected]. CBS chief Les Moonves is this year’s chairman and board member Clarence Page is host.