Police officers stand guard as anti-vaccine demonstrators take part in a protest in Milan, Italy, on September 1, 2021. (Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)

What inspired us this year?

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Over the last 12 tumultuous months, CPJ has published hundreds of stories covering attacks on the press and journalists’ efforts to bring us the news. It was a year with some hard-fought success stories, from the collective effort to bring dozens of Afghan journalists to safety, including a family of four journalists who were resettled in Indiana, to the homecoming of American journalist Danny Fenster from Myanmar, where he had been imprisoned for nearly six months.

These are just some of the stories that stick with us. Heading into the new year, we asked a few CPJ staff members to share what moved and inspired them in 2021. We hope their answers inspire you, too.

“This feature on journalists harassed and attacked at anti-vaccine protests by CPJ Europe Correspondent Attila Mong shows in clear terms the violence journalists face while covering anti-vaccine protests in Europe, and the level of hate and vitriol directed at them. No journalist should be attacked for reporting the news.” – Lucy Westcott, CPJ emergencies director

“CPJ Emergencies Director Lucy Westcott’s Doha Diary. Westcott’s on-the-ground account of Afghan journalists facing fraught futures eloquently conveyed the heartbreak of their exile as well as offering insight into how CPJ helps at-risk reporters.” – Arlene Getz, CPJ editorial director

“Rimma Maksimova’s fight to bring justice in the murder of her son, Russian journalist Maksim Maksimov. Her courage was emblematic of the commitment of the many families holding power to account when systems do not.” – Bebe Santa-Wood, CPJ senior communications associate

“The profile of Anastasia Mejía, our [2021] International Press Freedom Award honoree from Guatemala, by CPJ Central America Correspondent Dánae Vílchez. She did a fantastic job telling a complex story about a journalist who doesn’t fit the typical profile of reporters we usually cover, and letting Anastasia’s voice come through. I also want to shout out CPJ Senior MENA [Middle East and North Africa] Researcher Justin Shilad’s piece on Yemeni journalists in exile, a topic that’s becoming increasingly relevant for all of our regions but is often difficult to document in all its nuance.” – Natalie Southwick, CPJ Latin America and the Caribbean program coordinator

“I was really moved by CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal’s Q&A with Deborah Al Hawi Al Marsi, the partner of imprisoned French freelance journalist Olivier Dubois. Angela’s article brought into relief the deep sadness and grief brought by Dubois’ absence.” – Katherine Jacobsen, CPJ U.S. and Canada program coordinator

“In 2021, I was particularly excited about the Mexico Elections Toolkit. Elections have become increasingly violent in Mexico in recent years. Our toolkit has helped us reach journalists on a more local level and provide more focused support for them.” — Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ Mexico representative

“CPJ’s first-ever audio feature, on what comes next for the American press after 2020’s unprecedented assaults on journalists stood out to me for its creative use of audio storytelling. It paints a vivid picture of how police in the U.S. impeded journalists from doing their jobs.” – Rebecca Redelmeier, CPJ audience engagement associate

“I recommend CPJ Senior Africa Researcher Jonathan Rozen’s feature on the three Togolese journalists who may have been targeted for surveillance based on Pegasus Project revelations. The journalists opened up about their ‘heightened…sense of insecurity.’ One of them said, ‘It’s scary. And it’s torture for me.’ I think this quote shows the toll of the psychological trauma that surveillance or possible surveillance can cause to an individual.” – Ahmed Zidan, deputy director, digital and social media

Explore these and the many other stories CPJ shared this year at cpj.org.

Is there a story about press freedom or journalist safety that moved you this year? Let us know by sharing it with us on Twitter and tagging @pressfreedom.

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