CPJ Update

CPJ Update
August 2007
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

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In China, CPJ calls for greater press freedom
One year before the 2008 Olympic Games open in Beijing, China still severely restricts and censors the domestic press despite its promise to “give the media complete freedom,” according to a new report released by CPJ in Beijing on August 7. A CPJ delegation, including board chairman and Wall Street Journal editor-at-large Paul Steiger, Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz and Senior Researcher Kristin Jones traveled to China to present the report Falling Short: As the 2008 Olympics Approach, China Falters on Press Freedom at CPJ’s first press conference in China.

“Censorship is intense at newspapers and TV, and is extending to the Internet,” Steiger said at the press briefing. “Journalists are closely monitored, are arrested, sometimes beaten, sometimes jailed, often under vague state security charges.” The press conference was widely covered in the international media, including by The New York Times, NPR, and CNN. A meeting with the International Olympic Committee to call for greater reform is scheduled for August 8.

United States: CPJ welcomes arrest in editor’s murder
CPJ welcomes the swift apprehension of the man who allegedly killed Oakland editor Chauncey Bailey. Following a police raid on Friday, a 19-year-old handyman at a local bakery confessed to the murder. Bailey was gunned down in broad daylight as he walked to work on the morning of August 2.

There have been few journalists killed in the line of duty in the United States in recent years, according to CPJ research. The last deaths came in 2001, when freelance photographer William Biggart was killed in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Sun photo editor Robert Stevens died of inhalation anthrax in Boca Raton, Fla. Reporter Dona St. Plite, a Miami radio reporter of Haitian descent, was the last journalist killed in a targeted assassination in 1993. From 1976 to 1993, 12 journalists were killed in the United States. CPJ issued its report The Unsolved Murders of Immigrant Journalists in the United States that year. All but one of the victims discussed had been immigrant journalists working in languages other than English, and few of them received any media coverage.

Philippine top judge to CPJ: We will seek justice for murdered journalists
At a meeting in Manila on July 26 with Executive Director Joel Simon and Sheila Coronel, CPJ board member and director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court Reynato S. Puno said that he will seek justice in the unsolved killings of journalists and will use his authority to protect freedom of speech and of the press.

During their five-day trip to the Philippines, Simon and Coronel met with a wide range of journalists, press groups, and media owners to discuss strategies to combat the Philippines’ high rate of journalist murders. CPJ’s research shows that 32 journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in the Philippines since 1992, making it the world’s fifth-deadliest nation for journalists during that time period. The impunity rate in these cases is well over 90 percent, CPJ research shows.

Morocco: CPJ reports worsening press conditions
A CPJ report released in July found that journalists in Morocco were experiencing increased pressure from the government despite previous strides towards an open media. The report, The Moroccan Façade, examines the climate for journalists in one of the Arab world’s influential countries. A CPJ mission to the North African nation was formed in response to a sharp increase in judicial action against journalists, particularly defamation lawsuits. The CPJ delegation, which included board member Dave Marash of Al-Jazeera English, Senior Program Coordinator Joel Campagna, and consultant Kamel Labidi spent 10 days in Casablanca and Barat meeting with journalists, activists, and government officials.

New York Times correspondent Jim Glanz meets with staff
On July 20, Jim Glanz, the new Baghdad bureau chief for The New York Times, joined CPJ staff for a discussion about the increasing threats for journalists in Iraq. Glanz, who has reported from Iraq periodically since 2004, said that while a certain level of danger has always been associated with reporting in war zones, the situation in Iraq is reaching a point that has never been seen before in journalism.

CPJ hosts luncheon for Norman Pearlstine’s Off the Record: The Press, the Government, and the War over Anonymous Sources
CPJ Board member Norman Pearlstine discussed his new book, Off the Record: The Press, the Government, and the War over Anonymous Sources,on July 17 over lunch at CPJ. Pearlstine spoke about the attack on confidential sources in the aftermath of the “Plamegate” scandal.While his book centers on the scandal, the content and conclusions have implications for press freedom as a whole.

Staff news:
CPJ is pleased to welcome two new staff members; Lauren Wolfe, who will serve as deputy editor, previously worked as the copy chief of the daily newspaper amNewYork from 2005 to 2007. She has been an editor, reporter, and researcher for newspapers, magazines, books, and electronic media, including at The New York Times, Long Island Press, and Architecture magazine. In addition, Andrew Levinson joins the staff as the new communications assistant. He has worked previously as a production assistant for CNN, and has interned at 60 Minutes as well as at several nonprofits.

CPJ is also pleased to announce a new assignment for Elisabeth Witchel, who started CPJ’s very successful Journalist Assistance Program. Elisabeth will continue to head the program while also focusing her knowledge and dedication as CPJ’s Impunity Campaign Coordinator, spearheading a major effort by CPJ to combat impunity rates in journalist murders around the world.

Former CPJ Asia program coordinator Kavita Menon is back for the month of August covering Asia again for CPJ after working at Amnesty International in London.

CPJ Missions to Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Argentina
Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz will travel to Sri Lanka and Pakistan in August to examine conditions for the press, and Americas Program Coordinator Carlos Lauria is in Argentina to participate in seminars and travel to the southern province of Santa Cruz to meet with journalists, officials, and verify press freedom conditions there.