CPJ Update

News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

On its 25th anniversary, CPJ honors four courageous journalists

From left to right: Atwar Bahjat, Madi Ceesay, Jamal Amer, Jesús Abad Colorado, Hodding Carter

CPJ will honor four journalists–from Colombia, Yemen, the Gambia and Iraq–with 2006 International Press Freedom Awards. Jesús Abad Colorado of Colombia, Jamal Amer of Yemen, and Madi Ceesay of the Gambia have all risked their lives to report the news, braving attacks, harassment, and imprisonment. CPJ will posthumously honor Atwar Bahjat, correspondent for Al-Arabiya satellite television and former Al-Jazeera reporter who was gunned down while covering a bombing near Samarra, Iraq, in February.

Hodding Carter III, the respected newspaper editor, television journalist, foundation executive, and teacher, will receive CPJ’s Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for lifetime achievement.

The awards will be presented at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City on Tuesday, November 21. Robert A. Iger, president and chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Company, and John S. Carroll, Knight visiting lecturer at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University, will co-chair the black-tie dinner. CNN’s Chief International Correspondent and CPJ board member Christiane Amanpour will be the host.

At the awards ceremony, as a culmination of its anniversary celebration, CPJ plans to recognize key contributors to the organization’s quarter century of success including all CPJ board members past and present, all former executive directors, past awardees, past winners of Burton Benjamin Awards, and previous dinner chairs.

For more information about the 2006 International Press Freedom Awards, click here:

CPJ urges Putin to back Politkovskaya murder probe
In response to the brutal murder of leading Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya on October 7 in Moscow, CPJ is calling on President Vladimir Putin to express unambiguous support for the criminal investigation into her killing. Putin waited three days before speaking publicly about the murder, and then tried to play down the significance her internationally acclaimed reporting on Chechnya by calling her influence “minimal.”

CPJ research on press freedom in Russia was cited in most major media coverage in the days after the killing, including the fact that Politkovskaya was the 13th journalist murdered in a contract-style killing since Putin came to office in 2000. In dozens of domestic and international media interviews, CPJ staff repeatedly called on the Russian president to take decisive steps to end the cycle of impunity there.

To read more about the Russian government’s mixed signals about its support for the Politkovskaya murder investigation, click here: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/europe/russia10oct06na.html

In Dangerous Assignments, veteran reporters examine lessons of war
Four veteran correspondents examine the history and lessons of war coverage, from Iraq and Cambodia to Lebanon and Bosnia, in a special 25th anniversary edition of CPJ’s biannual magazine Dangerous Assignments released today. NBC’s Jane Arraf, AP correspondent Richard Pyle, BBC Middle East correspondent Jim Muir, and Newsday’s Roy Gutman relay their experiences on the changing status of war correspondents.

Also in this double issue; CPJ Board Members Victor Navasky, Michael Massing, Dave Marash, Josh Friedman, and Geraldine Fabrikant Metz look at the legacy of the press freedom movement and the challenges ahead; CPJ profiles Anna Politkovskaya, Akbar Ganji and other leading press freedom figures of the past quarter-century; Matthew Hansen investigates the role of governments worldwide in the deaths of hundreds of journalists over 15 years; and Middle East and North Africa Senior Program Coordinator Joel Campagna examines the U.S. government’s detention of an Al-Jazeera cameraman at Guantanamo.

Read the magazine online (PDF).

CPJ condemns single deadliest attack in Iraq, gunmen kill 11
CPJ expressed outrage after gunmen executed 11 employees of a fledgling satellite television channel in Baghdad early on the morning of October 11 in the single deadliest attack on the Iraqi press since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. The station, Al-Shaabiya, had not yet gone on the air and had run only test transmissions. Executive manager Hassan Kamil told Reuters that the station had no political agenda and that the staff had been a mix of Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. Kamil said some of the gunmen wore police uniforms, and all were masked. According to news reports the gunmen’s cars resembled police vehicles.

According to CPJ research, 86 journalists and 37 media workers have been killed in Iraq since the war began.

To read more about the attack on Al-Shaabiya, http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/mideast/iraq12oct06na.html

Learn more about journalists and media workers killed on duty in Iraq: http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/Iraq/Iraq_danger.html

CPJ reunion brings together former and current staff & board
On October 22, more than 50 current and former CPJ staff and board members gathered at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary. Executive Director Joel Simon and Board Chairman Paul Steiger talked about the important contributions staff and board members have made, and longtime board members Michael Massing, Dave Marash, Josh Friedman, Jim Goodale, and Dave Laventhol shared their recollections of CPJ’s history, including its first mission to Central America.