CPJ Update

March 2007
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

CPJ welcomes two new board members

CPJ is pleased to welcome Sheila Coronel and Matthew Winkler to CPJ’s board of directors. Coronel, director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University, is a veteran investigative editor and press freedom advocate from the Philippines. Winkler is editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, the global news service that he helped found.

CPJ board members play an integral role in our advocacy, accompanying staff on missions, supporting efforts to win the release of imprisoned journalists around the world, and overseeing the activities of the organization.

Steiger hosts Moscow mission debriefing
Chairman Paul Steiger invited supporters to a March 2 breakfast meeting at The Wall Street Journal‘s offices to discuss CPJ’s January mission to Moscow. The mission became front-page news throughout Russia; in its aftermath, President Vladimir Putin publicly pledged to protect journalists.

The audience heard about the delegation’s meetings with journalists and government officials from Steiger, managing editor of The Journal; CPJ board member Norman Pearlstine, the former editor-in-chief of Time Inc.; CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon; and CPJ Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. At least 13 journalists in Russia have been murdered in contract-style killings since Putin came to power in 2000, but none of the cases have been solved.

In Madrid, CPJ meets government leaders, journalists
and Americas Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría are in Spain this week to meet with Spanish Under Secretary of State for Latin America Trinidad Jiménez, Prince Felipe de Borbón, and members of the congressional Committee for International Cooperation. As a key player in relations with Latin America, Spain is a strategically important location for CPJ to present its work.

On March 6, the delegation and the prominent Madrid-based press group Asociación de la Prensa Madrileña (APM) will convene a press conference to present CPJ’s Attacks on the Press, including extensive Spanish-language sections. The delegation will also host a dinner with local reporters and foreign correspondents.

Staff appearances:

 Washington representative Frank Smyth took part in a February 28 discussion hosted by the Newseum in Washington on press freedom in the former Soviet states. Students from Europe and Central Asia participated in the Close Up Foundation’s week-long government studies program. The forum aired on C-Span on March 2.

•  Communications Director Abi Wright participated in “New Media: The Press Freedom Dimension,” a conference sponsored by UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Committee in Paris on February 15-16. She led a panel on challenges facing new media and online journalists, including censorship and imprisonment. Participants represented Russia, Somalia, Iran, and China.

• Senior Middle East Program Coordinator Joel Campagna participated in a panel on journalist safety during the International Conference on Freedom of Expression and Media Development in Iraq, January 8-10. The conference was organized by the Communications and Media Commission of Iraq (CMC) in cooperation with UNESCO.

CPJ staff is undertaking an ambitious advocacy program, with plans for more than 10 missions to countries where press freedom is under attack. Here are some highlights:

•  In Sri Lanka, where attacks on journalists are increasing with the deterioration of the peace process, Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz will meet with government officials to pressure them to do more to safeguard the press.

 Lauría plans CPJ’s first mission to Bolivia, where he will travel to the capital, La Paz, the opposition stronghold of Santa Cruz, and the central city of Cochabamba.

 Azerbaijan will be the focus of Ognianova’s next mission. The climate for the independent and opposition press has worsened in recent months, with journalists jailed on politicized charges, opposition press harassed through bureaucratic methods, and no progress in the investigation of the high-profile murder of opposition editor Elmar Huseynov in 2005.