Welcome to the CPJ Blog

We hope to keep you informed here about the latest news affecting journalists and press freedom. We’ll continue to issue our press releases, letters, and carefully researched reports, but this blog should be your first step for up-to-the-minute information. We’ll have firsthand accounts from our staff as they travel the world and brief reports from journalists on the front lines. We’ll react here first when a journalist is abducted or jailed. We’ll tell you about our struggles and our successes.

The blog also gives you an early look at our new Web site, which is now being built. The design of this page reflects the look you’ll soon see throughout cpj.org.

Our blog will put much of its early focus on the Olympics. CPJ Program Coordinator Bob Dietz, who has worked in China for two decades, will be posting from Hong Kong about press freedom issues and the concerns of journalists covering the Games. When Bob goes to sleep, Kristin Jones will take over in the New York office. Kristin, a fluent Mandarin speaker, will post a daily roundup of what the Chinese media is covering–and not covering.

In two weeks, on August 8, the Olympic torch will be lit in Beijing and the Games will get under way. The facilities may well be first rate and the smoggy air over Beijing may even clear, but in one very important respect China is not ready. Despite China’s pledge to allow complete media freedom, the rights of journalists continue to be severely restricted.

Despite much hailed legal changes, international journalists in China continue to face harassment and restrictions on their movement. We recounted these problems in depth in our June special report, Falling Short. The headlines: Sources are routinely intimidated and threatened. Significant issues remain unresolved at this late date, including visas for non-accredited journalists and rules surrounding live footage. More troubling, Chinese journalists are subject to strict censorship and government control. The fact that China could be the world’s leading jailer of journalists when the Games commence–26 journalists are now in prison–mocks the country’s promises of media reform.

We hope that things go smoothly for the media, but we’ll be ready if they don’t. As we post this today, we are following up on reports that Hong Kong reporters were roughed up while covering Olympic ticket sales, and that access to certain Web sites was blocked at the press center. 

In the next week, we’ll be setting up a 24-hour hotline so that journalists who run into difficulties can reach out for help. Check back here for details.

While others are rooting for their favorite athletes or monitoring the medal count, we will be following the Olympics just as obsessively but with an entirely different focus. All journalists–including Chinese journalists–must be able to work freely and all of us, including the IOC and the Olympic partners, have a stake in ensuring that China’s media commitments are met. As the Olympic torch is extinguished, it is the custom of the IOC to declare each successive Games, “the most successful ever.” Such a proclamation would ring hollow if China fails to allow journalists to work freely.