Journalist groups urge Kerry to make good on media safety pledges

By Robert Mahoney/CPJ Deputy Executive Director on February 16, 2016 2:50 PM ET

The Islamic State beheadings of journalists shook up the media industry. The safety of reporters generally and conditions for freelancers in particular became a news story. Politicians responded.

A year ago, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a meeting of media industry executives, journalists, nongovernmental organizations, and his staff to explore ways to better protect the press. The meeting coincided with the news industry's efforts to do the same. In February 2015, news groups launched the Freelance Journalist Safety Principles to which more than 90 organizations have signed up.

At the meeting in Washington, Kerry committed to making a "roadmap" for the State Department to work on journalist safety. In the intervening year, progress along that road has been slow.

Groups including the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote to Kerry today urging him to follow through on three main commitments: develop protocols for U.S. embassies and missions on when and how to help journalists working in hostile environments; work with countries that ban the import of safety gear to obtain exemptions for journalists; make impunity in the killings of journalists an issue in U.S. diplomacy with other countries.

Read the letter here.

UPDATE: CPJ received a response from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on May 3, 2016. Read the full response here.


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