Middle East & North Africa / 2012

CPJ Blog

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Combat deaths at a high, risks shift for journalists

December 18, 2012 12:00 AM ET

Murder is the leading cause of work-related deaths among journalists worldwide--and this year was no exception. But the death toll in 2012 continued a recent shift in the nature of journalist fatalities worldwide. More journalists were killed in combat situations in 2012 than in any year since 1992, when...

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Journalists still murdered where impunity reigns

December 18, 2012 12:00 AM ET

Almost half of the 67 journalists killed worldwide in 2012 were targeted and murdered for their work, research by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows. The vast majority covered politics. Many also reported on war, human rights, and crime. In almost half of these cases, political groups are the...

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In Internet freedom fight, why the ITU matters (for now)

December 14, 2012 12:39 PM ET

For most of its almost-150-year history, the meetings of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations' communications standards body, have been rather predictable affairs....

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Integrity vs. authenticity in video journalism

December 13, 2012 2:20 PM ET

Back in November 2010, Britain's Channel 4 broadcast a leaked video that appears to show men in Sri Lankan military uniforms executing bound prisoners, the camera panning across a series of bodies laid out in a ditch. Family and friends identified one of those bodies as that of Tamil...

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Video: Campaign to free the press

December 11, 2012 12:00 AM ET

(CNN) The imprisonment of journalists hit a record high in 2012, driven by the growing use of anti-terrorism charges to silence critical voices. This video, a centerpiece of CPJ's new Free the Press campaign, details the plight of imprisoned journalists worldwide and describes how international advocacy can make a difference...

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On Human Rights Day, make your voice heard on impunity

December 10, 2012 4:07 PM ET

In 1950, the United Nations General Assembly declared December 10 Human Rights Day in commemoration of the adoption and proclamation two years earlier of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every year, on this day, the U.N. chooses one right to highlight and advocate. This year, Human Rights Day is...

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Speak Justice campaign fights impunity in press murders

December 6, 2012 6:15 AM ET

The tortured and decapitated body of 39-year-old María Elizabeth Macías Castro was found on a Saturday evening in September 2011. It had been dumped by the side of a road in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican border town ravaged by the war on drugs. Macías, a freelance journalist, wrote about...

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Syria's desperate move to cut links won't succeed

November 30, 2012 1:52 PM ET

The Syrian Internet, like the country, appears to have been collapsing into a patchwork of unconnected systems for some time. I spent time talking to Syrians tech activists this week in Tunisia before Thursday's shutdown, and their reports from the front painted a picture of two different networks....

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To fight impunity, cycle of fear, silence must be broken

November 23, 2012 9:00 AM ET

Three years ago, on November 23, 2009, 30 journalists and two media workers were brutally killed in the southern Philippine city of Maguindanao while travelling in a convoy with the family and supporters of a local politician. To this day, not a single suspect has been convicted, though local...

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Will UN plan address impunity, security for journalists?

November 13, 2012 1:31 PM ET

Here are the facts:A journalist is killed in the line of duty somewhere around the world once every eight days.Nearly three out of four are targeted for murder. The rest are killed in the crossfire of combat, or on dangerous assignments such as street protests.Local journalists constitute the large...

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Twenty-three days to take action against impunity

November 1, 2012 4:28 PM ET

Approximately 30 journalists are targeted and murdered every year, and on average, in only three of these crimes are the killers ever brought to justice. Other attacks on freedom of expression occur daily: bloggers are threatened, photographers beaten, writers kidnapped. And in those instances, justice is even more rare. Today,...

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London statement urges strong steps to protect journalists

October 23, 2012 12:12 PM ET

More than 40 media organizations worldwide are demanding urgent action by governments, the United Nations, and the industry to stop violence against journalists and end impunity in attacks on the press. They made their position known in a joint statement delivered today to the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural...

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At Bayeux, war correspondents stress duty to report

October 15, 2012 11:11 AM ET

Syria and Libya were the main themes at the 19th edition of the Bayeux-Calvados Prize for War Correspondents, which took place this weekend in the historical city of Bayeux, a few miles away from the Normandy beaches where Allied forces landed in June 1944 to liberate Europe from the...

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Receding hopes for press freedom in Tunisia

September 25, 2012 2:40 PM ET

These days, press freedom in Tunisia feels ever more distant. Many journalists believed that media freedoms, which were virtually nonexistent under former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, would grow after his ouster. During the aftermath of the December 2010 uprising, an independent press blossomed and special commissions were set...

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In Cryptocat, lessons for technologists and journalists

September 11, 2012 12:12 PM ET

Alhamdulillah! Finally, a technologist designed a security tool that everyone could use. A Lebanese-born, Montreal-based computer scientist, college student, and activist named Nadim Kobeissi had developed a cryptography tool, Cryptocat, for the Internet that seemed as easy to use as Facebook Chat but was presumably far more secure....

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Dear CPJ: Some malware from your 'friend'

August 30, 2012 4:32 PM ET

We talk a lot about hacking attacks against individual journalists here, but what typifies an attempt to access a reporter's computer? Joel Simon, CPJ's executive director, received an email last week that reflects some characteristics of a malware attack against a journalist or activist. There was nothing particularly notable...

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Syria, Somalia, Bahrain--where fathers bury their sons

August 10, 2012 2:40 PM ET

The 17-year-old videographer Anas al-Tarsha regularly filmed clashes and military movements in the city of Homs in Syria, and posted the footage on YouTube. On February 24, he was killed by a mortar round while filming the bombardment of the city's Qarabees district, according to news reports. The central...

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US pursues return of Palestinian TV station's equipment

August 7, 2012 3:39 PM ET

For more than five months, the Ramallah-based private television broadcaster Wattan TV has been without key equipment, including transmitters, computers, files, and archives. On February 29, Israeli soldiers and officials from the Ministry of Communications raided the station without a warrant, saying it was broadcasting illegally and interfering with aircraft...

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Weak cyber protections lead to personal, institutional risk

August 6, 2012 6:14 PM ET

The Syrian civil war is also a propaganda war. With the Assad regime and the rebels both attempting to assure their supporters and the world that they are on the brink of victory, how the facts are reported has become central to the struggle. Hackers working in support of Assad...

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Stressed out: How should newsrooms handle trauma?

July 27, 2012 1:49 PM ET

The rampage inside a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 people and injured dozens more is the most recent reminder that a journalist anywhere can face sudden, great emotional stress. Any story involving tragedy--from domestic violence to natural disasters--can inflict an emotional toll on field journalists. The very empathy...

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For journalists, danger lurking in your email

July 27, 2012 7:47 AM ET

This week, Morgan Marquis-Boire and Bill Marczak of the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab provided a disturbing look into the likely use of a commercial surveillance program, FinFisher, to remotely invade and control the computers of Bahraini activists. After the software installs itself onto unsuspecting users' computer, it can...

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CPJ testifies on global threats to freedom of expression

July 26, 2012 1:51 PM ET

CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington on Wednesday, highlighting global attacks on press freedom and, in particular, assaults on the press in Honduras, Russia, and Turkey....

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Face-blurring comes into focus for journalists

July 20, 2012 5:24 PM ET

This week, YouTube announced a feature that should catch the eye of video journalists and bloggers working in dangerous conditions. After uploading a video to YouTube, you can now deploy a "blur faces" post-production tool that, in theory, should disguise the visual identity of everyone on the screen. The...

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Egypt's state-run media threatened by Shura move

July 16, 2012 11:23 AM ET

The first test for the future of press freedom in Egypt since President Mohamed Morsi took office is not going well....

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Another journalist reports sex assault in Tahrir Square

June 26, 2012 5:05 PM ET

The story sounds hideously like another--one of a chaotic, predatory attack on a woman journalist in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Clothes torn from her body, hundreds of men surging to grab her breasts and claw at her. A woman wondering, "Maybe this is how I go, how I die." It...

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What to do if Google warns of state-sponsored attack

June 22, 2012 12:55 PM ET

Some journalists continue to receive the warning from Google about state-sponsored attacks that we mentioned last week. The message appears on top of logged-in services like Gmail. Occasionally it will disappear for a few hours and then reappear, but there is no way to remove it....

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Skype Trojan targets Syrian citizen journalists, activists

June 20, 2012 3:25 PM ET

The Russian manufacturer promises results. The software can be used to control your own or, say, a customer's computer by making it a remote software client. Or it could be used for spying on others....

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Video: Journalists in exile

June 19, 2012 12:05 AM ET

Four East African journalists who were forced to flee their countries tell about their experiences, difficulties, and hopes for the future. (3:43)Read CPJ's report, "Journalists in exile: Crisis in East Africa," for more information about journalists forced to go into exile....

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For exiled Eritreans in Sudan, fear greater than most

June 19, 2012 12:03 AM ET

With the launch of CPJ's most recent exile report, I will have worked exactly three years for our Journalist Assistance program. More than 500 cases later, I have helped journalists who have gone into hiding or exile to escape threats; those in need of medicine and other support while...

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Spreading the security message

June 14, 2012 2:03 PM ET

Video streaming by UstreamOn the frontlines of global reporting, knowledge is safety. CPJ's event series to promote our new Journalist Security Guide continued Wednesday in Washington, D.C. where we teamed up with Internews for a panel discussion on journalist security on-site and online. ...

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State-sponsored attacks: open season on online journalists

June 8, 2012 2:39 PM ET

The last few weeks have offered the strongest indications yet that nation-states are using customized software to exploit security flaws on personal computers and consumer Internet services to spy on their users. The countries suspected include the United States, Israel, and China. Journalists should pay attention--not only because this is...

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Defining role of the press in genocide prevention

June 6, 2012 1:22 PM ET

Talking about genocide prevention in the shadow of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps brings an intense and unique gravity to the discussions. The academic presentations cannot extract themselves from the looming presence of the barbed wires and grim towers surrounding the Nazis' most infamous death factory....

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Computer crime laws belie Thai claim to modern society

May 31, 2012 5:19 PM ET

At online discussion sites all over the world, comments are posted on the Web as soon as they are written. People argue, inform, express anger, and voice fears. Some say things in the heat of the moment that they might go on to regret. Others are elliptical and obscure. The...

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Free expression in Americas goes beyond left or right

May 31, 2012 3:47 PM ET

On Sunday the general assembly of the Organization of American States will convene in Bolivia in the verdant, highland valley city of Cochabamba. The 35 member states (every nation in the region except Cuba) are expected to vote on a measure that, if passed, could curtail free expression and press...

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Solidarity, a key to security, eludes Salvadoran press

May 25, 2012 10:16 AM ET

No other journalists are remembered quite like this. Visitors looking through the glass display at the Monsignor Romero Center & Martyrs Museum in San Salvador see the pajamas and other clothes that three Jesuit university priests were wearing when they were shot down by automatic rifle fire. A series...

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At CPJ Debrief, Gettleman cites Somalia danger, reward

May 24, 2012 5:57 PM ET

Jeffrey Gettleman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent, says he travels with "a small militia" whenever he reports from Somalia, the East African country afflicted by armed insurgency, poverty, and hunger. As intrusive as the security detail might be, he feels far more fortunate than the local reporters...

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Sudan's press under siege

May 21, 2012 4:19 PM ET

Press freedom in Sudan is rapidly deteriorating, with confiscation of newspapers by the security agency becoming a norm. The scope of violations committed against publications and journalists by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) is widening by the day....

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Don't get your sources in Syria killed

May 21, 2012 11:28 AM ET

Because foreign journalists have been virtually banned from Syria during the uprising against Bashar al-Assad's regime, news coverage has relied heavily on citizen journalists and international reporters working with sources inside the country. Syrians who communicate with foreign news media run the risk of being threatened, detained, tortured, or...

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Audio slideshow: Supporting family of Anton Hammerl

May 14, 2012 5:05 PM ET

Freelance photographer Anton Hammerl was killed in Libya on April 5, 2011. Friends of Hammerl are holding an auction May 15 to raise funds for his three children. James Foley elaborates....

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Should J-School grads just get up and go overseas?

May 10, 2012 1:05 PM ET

The guidance is hardly clear. At a Columbia University event last week pegged to the release of the new CPJ Journalist Security Guide, one journalism student said he and his classmates are getting contradictory advice. Many J-school professors, he said, have encouraged him and others to just get up,...

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Breaking pledge, Bahrain bars free expression mission

May 4, 2012 1:07 PM ET

Reneging on a promise made just weeks earlier, Bahraini authorities have denied visas to representatives of several free expression organizations who planned to travel to the kingdom next week to assess press and free speech conditions. CPJ is among several organizations that have signed a joint letter to Bahrain's director of...

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In digital security, knowledge and simplicity are keys

May 3, 2012 3:02 PM ET

Governments and criminal organizations are stepping up digital surveillance of journalists, but the press is not keeping pace in meeting the challenge, a panel of experts said Wednesday at an event marking the launch of the CPJ Journalist Security Guide. Reporters are using unsecure consumer electronic products for sensitive...

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Most censored nations each distort the Net in own way

May 2, 2012 4:00 PM ET

One big reason for the Internet's success is its role as a universal standard, interoperable across the world. The data packets that leave your computer in Botswana are the same as those which arrive in Barbados. The same is increasingly true of modern mobile networks. Standards are converging: You...

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China not most censored, but may be most ambitious

May 2, 2012 2:10 PM ET

China didn't make the cut for our 10 most censored countries. While the Chinese Communist Party's censorship apparatus is notorious, journalists and Internet users work hard to overcome the restrictions. Nations like Eritrea and North Korea lack that dynamism....

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Safer mobile use is key issue for journalists

May 2, 2012 2:00 PM ET

As the Internet and mobile communications become more integrated into reporters' work, the digital threats to journalists' work and safety have increased as well. While many press reports have documented Internet surveillance and censorship--and the efforts to combat them--mobile communications are the new frontline for journalist security....

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Assisting journalists forced to flee censorship

May 2, 2012 12:00 AM ET

CPJ's Journalist Assistance Program supports journalists who cannot be helped by advocacy alone. In 2011, we assisted 171 journalists worldwide. Almost a fourth came from countries that made CPJ's Most Censored list. Eight journalists from Eritrea, five from Syria, six from Cuba, and a whopping 20 from Iran sought...

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For conflict journalists, a need for first-aid training

April 30, 2012 4:41 PM ET

Stop the bleeding. It's a critical and fundamental step in aiding a journalist or anyone wounded in conflict. Hemorrhage is the number one preventable death on the battlefield. And yet large numbers of journalists covering wars and political unrest all across the world are untrained in this life-saving skill....

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Why journalists need new ways to stay safe

April 26, 2012 6:00 PM ET

After the Salvadoran online newsmagazine El Faro exposed a secret government deal with criminal gangs last month, its staff faced repercussions that illustrate the new and complicated risks facing journalists worldwide. El Faro's report, which said the government provided more lenient treatment of imprisoned gangsters in exchange for the...

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Palestinian TV wants US help retrieving seized transmitter

April 24, 2012 5:47 PM ET

Wattan TV bills itself as the voice of the voiceless. But since the Israeli army gutted its Ramallah headquarters in a predawn raid two months ago, that voice has been reduced to a whisper....

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Internet giants submit to external free expression scrutiny

April 18, 2012 4:46 PM ET

Journalists and bloggers in authoritarian countries have their work cut out thwarting governments that try to restrict their writing and reporting. The last thing they need to worry about is the provider of their publication platform helping authorities with censorship or surveillance. Cue the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a voluntary...

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CPJ in joint call for release of bloggers, activists in Bahrain

April 18, 2012 3:54 PM ET

CPJ is among 50 organizations that have signed a joint letter to Bahrain's king calling for the release of detained bloggers, activists, and human rights defenders and to drop all charges that violate the right to peaceful expression ahead of the Formula One motor racing event to be held...

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In Sudan, a new strategy to censor the press

April 5, 2012 6:43 PM ET

Sudanese authorities have a long history of closing newspapers and silencing journalists. But the government security agents who carry out official censorship have launched a new strategy this year that focuses on economic impoverishment--leaving newspapers more vulnerable than ever....

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Syrian cartoonist, attacked in August, returns to drawing

March 30, 2012 5:26 PM ET

Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat is wielding his pen once more. According to news reports, the famous cartoonist, who suffered a severe beating in August, has regained 90 percent of the movement in his hands, which were deliberately targeted by his attackers before they dumped him on the side of a...

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Iraqi cybercrime bill is the worst kind

March 30, 2012 1:35 PM ET

After the rash of political revolutions and criminal attacks on governments and companies last year, it wasn't hard to predict that 2012 would be the year of a cybercrime crackdown. The United States is considering its own cybercrime legislation, and the European Union is seeking to harmonize its member state's...

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Chair of UN panel on Syria pledges to probe attacks

March 16, 2012 1:00 PM ET

Paulo Pinheiro, the chair of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, is a seasoned diplomat trained in the tradition of Brazil's foreign affairs ministry, Itamaraty, with its celebrated emphasis on impartial mediation, dialogue, and strong skepticism toward foreign intervention to resolve international conflicts....

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In Syria, killing the messenger hasn't killed the message

March 14, 2012 1:14 PM ET

A report on the first anniversary of the Syrian uprisingWeeks of sporadic protests seeking government reform burst into full-fledged unrest on March 15, 2011, when thousands of demonstrators gathered in four Syrian cities. Within days, authorities had cut off news media access to Daraa, a center of the unrest,...

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From Small World, timely advice on safe satphone use

March 13, 2012 2:43 PM ET

Journalists and technologists often speak different languages. But a Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit, Small World News, is bridging the gap with a new guide on the safe use of satellite phones. It comes at a critical time. The group's Guide to Safely Using Satphones just went online, less than three...

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Arrest in bombing case prompts scrutiny in India

March 9, 2012 5:02 PM ET

To many in the Indian media community, the arrest of independent journalist Syed Mohammad Kazmi by the Delhi police's Special Cell on March 6 for his alleged involvement in a bombing brings back troublesome memories....

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Egyptian journalists pressured by military, Islamists

March 6, 2012 3:21 PM ET

For a few weeks after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, it looked as if Egypt might do the unthinkable and do away with the ministry of information. New publications and TV stations sprouted up, newspaper circulation soared, and a new breed of citizen journalists and bloggers opened a...

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Recalling Rémi Ochlik, 'a man of great value'

February 25, 2012 1:13 PM ET

I liked Rémi a lot. Rémi was fragile, yet he didn't really try to conceal the fact. His fragility was his strength, a formidable one at that. Unlike so many journalists of today, Rémi was a true idealist, a rare mix of innocence and panache, compassion and bravery....

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Caveat utilitor: Satellite phones can always be tracked

February 24, 2012 6:03 PM ET

The Telegraph in London was the first to report that Syrian government forces could have "locked on" to satellite phone signals to launch the rocket attacks that killed journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, as well as many Syrian civilians, besides wounding dozens more including two more international journalists. Working...

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Recalling Marie Colvin, the 'greatest of our generation'

February 23, 2012 3:41 PM ET

In her final hours, Marie Colvin gave this damning report to CNN's Anderson Cooper. Bravery, generosity, and commitment: These are the three characteristics of Marie Colvin that have surfaced, again and again, in the many tributes spoken and published since the veteran Sunday Times reporter was killed Wednesday in...

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Paul Conroy appeals for help from Homs

February 23, 2012 11:39 AM ET

In a video posted to YouTube by a Syrian activist, injured Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy speaks from Homs with his local doctor, describing his injuries and asking for humanitarian assistance, cessation of the shelling, and safe passage out. In English with some Arabic.Click here for Edith Bouvier and William...

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To quote Marie Colvin: 'What is bravery, and what bravado?'

February 23, 2012 11:30 AM ET

Not since the worst period of the Iraq war, or in the Balkans the decade before, have so many storied journalists been killed or seriously injured in such a short period of time. Inevitably, the spate of deaths leaves many journalists asking questions about whether and how much they are...

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From Homs, injured journalists seek world's help

February 23, 2012 9:56 AM ET

In this video posted to YouTube by a Syrian activist, injured Le Figaro reporter Edith Bouvier and Sunday Times photographer William Daniels speak from Homs along with the local doctor who has been treating them. They are pleading with the world to make the barrage of rockets stop and...

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Slideshow: Colvin, Ochlik at work

February 22, 2012 3:11 PM ET

International journalists Marie Colvin, 55, and Rémi Ochlik, 28, were killed Wednesday during shelling of the besieged city of Homs in Syria. window.jQuery || document.write("\x3C/script>") $( document ).ready(function() { $(".anyClass").jCarouselLite({ btnNext: ".next", btnPrev: ".prev" }); }); « Previous Image | Next Image » Pictured are Colvin, an American reporting for...

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As live streaming expands, challenges intensify

February 22, 2012 3:06 PM ET

The world lost one of the only direct windows into the carnage in Homs, Syria, when Rami al-Sayed's video live stream went dark Tuesday. A citizen journalist, al-Sayed was live streaming the Assad regime's bombardment of Baba Amr and the brutal after-effects when he was struck by shrapnel and...

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Risk and reporting

February 22, 2012 2:29 PM ET

Last night at London's Frontline Club, CPJ launched its global survey of press freedom conditions, Attacks on the Press. The topic of discussion was the safety of journalists covering conflict and the panel consisted of journalist and documentarian Jenny Kleeman, ITN safety guru Colin Pereira, and journalist and filmmaker Maziar...

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At Attacks launch, a look at Cairo's post-revolution press

February 21, 2012 11:39 PM ET

What a difference a year makes. In January 2011, we had to scrap plans for our regular Middle East launch of Attacks on the Press at the headquarters of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate in downtown Cairo. Just a few blocks away, in Tahrir Square, journalists were busy fending off...

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A year of repression: Bahrain continues crackdown on press

February 13, 2012 1:59 PM ET

In the year since peaceful protests began in Bahrain on February 14, 2011, the government has targeted the press corps with assault, detention, harassment, and torture to obstruct their coverage. My organization, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, has documented a systematic campaign by authorities to silence coverage of...

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Can selective blocking pre-empt wider censorship?

February 3, 2012 5:14 PM ET

Last week, Twitter provoked a fierce debate online when it announced a new capability--and related policy--to hide tweets on a country-specific basis. By building this feature into its website's basic code, Twitter said it hoped to offer a more tailored response to legal demands to remove tweets globally. The...

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Tunisian media: One year after the revolution

January 23, 2012 1:42 PM ET

The doses of freedom that the Tunisian revolution injected into national media have not been sufficient to revive it after decades of systematic destruction. It is not surprising that our evaluation of media one year after the tyrant fell reveals more negativity and pessimism....

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Jacquier's killing raises chilling questions on Syria

January 13, 2012 6:44 PM ET

The killing on January 11 of a French TV reporter has sent a chill through the international press corps trying to cover the violence in Syria. Gilles Jacquier, 43, who was on assignment for the French public service channel France 2, was a seasoned journalist and the laureate of...

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