Q&A with a CPJ supporter

Dr. William Borucki, the former principal investigator of NASA’s Kepler Mission, donated to CPJ part of the Shaw Prize in Astronomy he was awarded in June 2015.

Borucki, who spent more than five decades at NASA, advocated for years to develop a space mission that could detect Earth-size planets and determine the frequency of those planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars. The Kepler Mission was launched in 2009 and has confirmed more than 1,000 planets.

“We now know that most stars have planets, many planets are about the size of Earth, and that there are billions of planets in the habitable zone of their stars,” Borucki told CPJ.

We spoke to Borucki about press freedom and his decision to support CPJ.

CPJ: After you received the Shaw Prize in Astronomy this year, you chose to donate parts of it to various organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, which promotes press freedom around the world. Can you tell us why you decided to donate a part of the prize to CPJ?

WB: For people to maintain their freedom and to accomplish worthwhile objectives, it is necessary to obtain an accurate and comprehensive picture of the situations we face. Thus, a free and unfettered press is required. Journalists who penetrate and report on difficult and complex situations make it possible for the public to respond appropriately. To succeed in getting the information, the journalists must be protected from those who would harm them in order to suppress information. My contribution is my way of helping to support the heroic journalists who make our freedom possible.

CPJ: We are very grateful for your generous support. Hundreds of journalists are killed, harassed, imprisoned, or attacked every year. We continue to work hard to hold killers accountable and ensure journalists are not imprisoned for their work. How did you hear of CPJ? Have you always been an advocate for press freedom?

WB: My wife and I hunted around for an organization that actively supported journalists in their efforts to get at the facts, especially in difficult circumstances. Your organization best fit that criterion.

CPJ: Thank you so much again for your time and support. If there’s anything else you’d like to add, please feel free to do so below.

WB: Best wishes for success in protecting journalists.

To learn more about Dr. Borucki’s work on the Kepler Mission, click here.