CPJ recognizes vital role of free press on democracy ahead of White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner

New York, April 24, 2024 — Ahead of the White House Correspondents’ Association’s (WHCA) annual dinner on Saturday, April 27, the Committee to Protect Journalists reaffirms the importance of press freedom for democracy.

This year’s WHCA dinner takes place at a time when journalists face grave threats globally and in a year when much of the world’s population heads to the polls.

Press freedom facts:

  • In 2023, attacks on journalists’ lives remained at near-record levels, with CPJ documenting 99 journalists and media workers killed worldwide, the highest number since 2015 and a 44% increase from 2022.
  • The rise was driven by the intensity of killings in the Israel-Gaza war, starting on October 7, 2023, which claimed the lives of more journalists in the first three months than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year. CPJ has confirmed 97 journalists and media workers have been killed in the war to date.
  • In its 2023 prison census, CPJ documented 320 journalists behind bars on December 1, including U.S. citizens Evan Gershkovich (imprisoned in Russia), Alsu Kurmasheva (Russia), and Austin Tice (Syria). This was the second-highest number recorded since CPJ began keeping records in 1992.
  • U.S. journalists continue to face a hostile press freedom environment. From the decline of local media outlets to the expanding criminalization of public interest reporting, the public stands to lose access to credible, reliable, and timely journalism that affects their welfare and livelihood.
  • The 2022 killing of veteran Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German serves as a stark reminder of the dangers local reporters face when covering their communities. Ongoing efforts to access German’s devices after his death highlighted the importance of a federal shield law for reporters.
  • A draft of a federal shield law, the PRESS Act, is currently sitting in the Senate. Pushing forward this legislation would signal the vital role that journalists play in fortifying democracy in the United States.

Media availability:

CPJ CEO Jodie Ginsberg will attend the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner and is available to speak with the media. To arrange an interview, contact [email protected].

As part of the White House Correspondents’ dinner events, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center and the Committee to Protect Journalists are hosting an event: In the Crosshairs: Protecting Journalists in 2024.

WHAT: Panel exploring how to protect journalists and free those wrongly imprisoned for simply doing their jobs, featuring Ginsberg and CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said.

WHEN: 1-3 p.m. Friday, April 26, 2024         

WHERE: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC

RSVP: Confirm attendance here.                  

About the Committee to Protect Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.

Media contact: [email protected]