CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Sara Rafsky

Sara Rafsky, former research associate in CPJ's Americas program, is a freelance journalist and M.S. candidate in Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was previously researcher on Central America at Amnesty International in Mexico City.

Blog   |   Mexico

Javier Valdez Cárdenas, brave and beloved Mexican journalist

The author interprets Javier Valdez Cárdenas's acceptance speech at the 2011 International Press Freedom Awards in New York. Valdez 'combined the grit of the most battle-hardened reporter with the elegiac soul of a 19th century Romantic poet.' (CPJ)

When Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas arrived in New York City in November 2011 to accept CPJ's International Press Freedom Award, he and his staff had already suffered a grenade attack on the offices of their weekly, Ríodoce. Weeks after receiving the award, they were the victims of a denial of service (DOS) attack that would take the publication's website offline for days. The death threats against Javier in reprisal for his reporting on organized crime and corruption continued until his brutal murder today in his home city of Culiacán, but he refused a life in exile or a life without journalism. "To die," he said in an interview with CPJ, "would be to stop writing."

Blog   |   Indonesia, Internet, Security, USA

Increased risks for filmmakers and sources in documentaries' Golden Age

A scene from Joshua Oppenheimer's documentary 'The Look of Silence.' (Courtesy of Drafthouse Films and Participant Media)

Joshua Oppenheimer travelled to New York for today's premiere of his documentary "The Look of Silence," but one place he won't travel is Indonesia, where he says his work on this and an earlier film puts him at risk. Earlier this week, Laura Poitras, the Academy Award-winning director of the documentary CITIZENFOUR, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government seeking information related to border interrogations to which she was subjected between 2006 and 2012. These two cases represent the increased and varied risks facing filmmakers and their sources in what many critics have dubbed the Golden Age of documentary film.

July 17, 2015 1:27 PM ET

Blog   |   USA

Eight days in Hong Kong: Laura Poitras on documenting Snowden for 'Citizenfour'

Laura Poitras's highly anticipated documentary Citizenfour was shown last week in New York. (AP/Charles Sykes/Invision)

The world premiere of Laura Poitras's highly anticipated documentary "CITIZENFOUR" at the New York Film Festival occurred with the appropriate amount of intrigue for a film about last year's dramatic revelations of the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. The press and premiere screenings were clocked to begin simultaneously on Friday so no breaking news could be leaked. The movie was a last-minute addition to the festival and the first complete screening even for film industry professionals, who had previously seen it only with crucial redactions. In a surreal touch, a 9-foot tall statue of the film's protagonist, Edward Snowden, mysteriously appeared in a park in New York earlier that day at the very moment--and apparently coincidentally--in which another principal character, journalist Glenn Greenwald, was there having breakfast.

Blog   |   USA

One year after CPJ's US report, little has changed between Obama and press

President Barack Obama speaks to journalists in Edgartown, Mass. in August. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

After a summer plagued by war and disease abroad and partisan fighting at home, it was not hard to fathom why President Barack Obama would yearn for a retreat. But from which of the mounting crises did the president hope to escape: Ukraine? Islamic State? Ebola? The Tea Party? None of the above, according to an interview with Obama on the Sunday television news program "Meet the Press," in early September. "What I'd love," he said, "is a vacation from the press."

Blog   |   USA

Obama transparency record remains unimpressive

President Obama speaks during the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington on May 3. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Nearly seven months ago, CPJ published its first in-depth report on press freedom in the United States, concluding that the Obama administration's aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information, broad surveillance programs, and moves to stem the routine disclosure of information to the press meant that the president had fallen far short of his campaign promise to have the most open government in U.S. history. What's changed since? A quick survey of recent events suggests not much. 

Blog   |   Mexico

Mexican documentary 'Presumed Guilty' finds justice

In this still from the film 'Presumed Guilty,' Layda Negrete explains how lawyers will prove Antonio Zúñiga's innocence. (Lawyers with Cameras, 2009)

In the three years since its theatrical premiere, the Mexican documentary "Presumed Guilty" ("Presunto Culpable") has earned enough headlines to make any film publicist envious. The movie has been banned, disparaged, acclaimed, and the subject of multiple lawsuits. Along the way, it has broken every documentary box office record in Mexico. Now a series of judicial decisions in the past week suggests that, while the discussion it sparked will continue, the film's legal battles may be drawing to a close. 

February 7, 2014 12:26 PM ET

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Blog   |   Ecuador

Correa steps up fight; hacking alleged on both sides

Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, on a visit to Moscow in October 2013. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

Seven months after Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa flirted with the idea of offering asylum to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, intercepted communications and leaked emails are again making headlines in the Andean country. This time, the story is not about international surveillance but a window onto the latest front in the ever-escalating war between the president and his critics.

Blog   |   USA

Censorship in Alabama's Shelby County

Before his staffers, under government duress, took power drills and angle grinders to destroy company Macbooks in the newspaper's basement, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger made sure to send Edward Snowden's leaked documents to New York newsrooms for safekeeping.

November 13, 2013 5:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   USA

Goodale: Pentagon Papers have lessons for AP case

James Goodale speaks at the luncheon at CPJ's offices. (CPJ/Sumit Galhotra)

Forty-two years ago next month, The New York Times published the first of the Pentagon Papers, a trove of classified documents on U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, sparking a landmark legal case on press freedom.

Blog   |   Brazil

In Brazil, awakening 'Rodrigo Neto in each of us'

Rodrigo Neto was killed after investigating possible police involvement in a series of local murders. (Diário Popular)

One month after their colleague Rodrigo Neto was gunned down on the street after eating at a popular outdoor barbecue restaurant, the journalists of Vale do Aço, Brazil, were indignant. Denouncing a sluggish investigation and the possibility of police involvement in the murder, they strapped black bands to their wrists in a sign of solidarity, put on T-shirts bearing Neto's name, and took to the streets to demand justice. Six days later, Walgney Assis Carvalho, a photographer who claimed to have knowledge of the crime, was shot twice in the back by a masked assassin as he sat at a fish restaurant. The journalists of Vale do Aço are still indignant, but now they are terrified.

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