2022 International Press Freedom Awardee Niyaz Abdullah (left) with 2023 IPFA Awardees (second from left to right) Ferdinand Ayité, María Teresa Montaño, Nika Gvaramia, and Shahina K. K. (Photo: Barbara Nitke for CPJ)

CPJ Insider: December edition

CPJ honors courageous journalists fighting repression worldwide

2022 International Press Freedom Awardee Niyaz Abdullah (left) with 2023 IPFA Awardees (second from left to right) Ferdinand Ayité, María Teresa Montaño, Nika Gvaramia, and Shahina K. K. (Photo: Barbara Nitke for CPJ)

CPJ held its 33rd annual International Press Freedom Awards (IPFA) in New York City, helping raise a record-breaking $2.8 million to protect journalists around the world. Our 2023 awardees faced government crackdowns, kidnapping, exile, and the rising criminalization of their work. They included Georgian journalist Nika Gvaramia, Indian journalist Shahina K.K., Mexican journalist María Teresa Montaño, and Togolese journalist Ferdinand Ayité. Exiled Iraqi Kurdish journalist Niyaz Abdullah, who was unable to travel to the United States to receive the 2022 IPFA, also received her award.

CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg mourned those who have perished in the course of their work—from Cameroon to Haiti, and Bangladesh to the Israel-Gaza war, stating that: “Journalists are civilians. We are not targets. We are not combatants. Our pens and our cameras are not weapons of war, but tools of justice.”

This year’s awards dinner was hosted by CNN Correspondent Omar Jimenez, who commended the awardees’ commitment to journalism and highlighted CPJ’s research into the deadly toll of the Israel-Gaza war, noting, “Never have so many journalists been killed in such a short period in a single conflict.”

CPJ’s board of directors honored Alberto Ibargüen, outgoing president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with the 2023 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award in recognition of his extraordinary commitment to press freedom.

You can watch the ceremony on YouTube here:

CPJ celebrates #GivingTuesday with your support!

Thank you for celebrating #GivingTuesday with CPJ. Press freedom is your freedom, after all, and defending it takes all of us. Amid war and conflict, widespread protests, and with a year of election reporting on the horizon, your support makes all the difference to the journalists we serve. This year, you joined us in sharing our work among friends and colleagues online, demanding a world that is not without witnesses, and making a financial commitment toward our life-saving work. Thank you for being a part of our mission—and helping keep all of us informed. If you have yet to make your gift for #GivingTuesday, there’s still time to do so: visit http://cpj.org/donate or reach out to our team at [email protected] for other ways you can support our work, including wire transfers, gifts of stock, or crypto, or by inviting friends, family, and colleagues to make a gift today.

#NotATarget: CPJ continues to document dismal toll of journalist killings in Gaza

A journalist sits with a camera in the southern Israeli city of Sderot watching the skyline of the northern Gaza Strip during an Israeli bombardment in October. (AFP/Jack Guez)

The first month of the Israel-Gaza war was the deadliest month for journalists that CPJ has ever documented, with 37 deaths from October 7 to November 6.

The current, dismal toll—of 63 journalists and media workers killed as of December 5—is more than 2022’s  global total of 42 journalists and media workers who were confirmed as killed in direct reprisal for their work. The situation in Gaza is particularly difficult, accounting for 56 of the 63 deaths.  

CPJ follows journalistic principles of two-source verification coupled with research by our sources in the region to ensure the accuracy of our data. We are using the same approach on counting deaths to the one we use for journalists killed in Ukraine. This means we’re maintaining our usual methodology of distinguishing between “motive confirmed” killings, where we’ve determined that a journalist was killed in connection with their work, and “motive unconfirmed,” where it remains unclear whether a death was work-related. However, given the difficulties of confirming that information when a war is raging, we are working on the assumption that any journalist killed in an area of hostilities was involved in trying to provide some form of coverage.

CPJ pays particular tribute to slain Palestinian press freedom defender Bilal Jadallah, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike that hit his car in Gaza on November 19. Jadallah worked with CPJ in May to help “document a deadly pattern of journalist killings by Israel Defense Forces and it appears that he fell victim to the same pattern,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said, adding, “His killing leaves a gaping hole in the media landscape in Gaza, where journalists are in severe peril as they cover the war that has claimed the lives of dozens of their colleagues.” The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate said it believes Israeli forces deliberately targeted Jadallah and CPJ is calling for an independent investigation into his killing and for those responsible to be held accountable.

Our full coverage page provides extensive links to additional information about the war.

Must-read or watch

CPJ spoke with Pavel Butorin, the husband of journalist Alsu Kurmasheva who has been held in pretrial detention in Russia since October. Kurmasheva is the second U.S. journalist to be held by Russia this year, after the arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges in March. “We very much appreciate all the strong statements from so many organizations, including yours,” Butorin told CPJ, “The more awareness we bring to this case the better it is for Alsu.”

CPJ joined nine other press freedom groups in a letter to express disappointment after Romania’s prosecutor’s office at the Bucharest Court of Appeal decided to close its investigation into the harassment and smear campaign against investigative journalist Emilia Șercan. Șercan had received threatening messages following her critical reporting on the then-Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă. “This decision fails both Emilia Șercan and all Romanian journalists who seek to hold political power to account,” the letter states.

CPJ is gathering images from the Israel-Gaza war that show journalists working under under extreme, heartbreaking, and, too-often, fatal circumstances as they document the war. The photos powerfully illustrate what’s at stake for journalists who try to bring us the news amid strikes and a ground assault on the blockaded Gaza Strip. CPJ advises viewer discretion as some of the images can be distressing.

CPJ in the news

Gaza’s communications blackout raises concerns of Israeli war crimes,” Al Jazeera

Journalism is not a crime. What’s criminal is the culture of impunity for journalists’ killers in Pakistan,” DAWN

Impunity in Journalist Killings Remains the Norm, Report Says,” VOA

Media watchdog says it was just ‘raising questions’ with insinuations about photographers and Hamas,” The Associated Press

On Instagram, Palestinian journalists and digital creators documenting Gaza strikes see surge in followers,” NBC

These charts show the scale of loss in the Israel-Hamas war,” CNN

The open source software question, market concentration in AI,” Euractiv

517 journalists killed in Americas in last 25 years; vast majority of cases go unpunished,” LatAm Journal Review

Al Jazeera reporter’s family receives Israeli threat to leave Gaza home,” Al Jazeera

Global Issues to Watch in 2024,” Chatham House