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Name and Shame in the Internet Age

Committee to Protect Journalists - CPJ Official Logo
Committee to Protect Journalists - CPJ Official Logo

Attacks on the Press 2009, the Committee to Protect Journalists annual study, affirms traditional advocacy wisdom – “Governments, including the most recalcitrant and repressive, still respond to international pressure” – while confronting the challenges presented by the growing numbers of untraditional newsgatherers who are at risk.

As Fareed Zakaria writes in his preface to the report, “…the media business is changing rapidly. Unable to afford foreign bureaus, more newspapers and magazines are relying on freelancers abroad. These stringers look just as suspicious to dictators and militant groups—and they are distinctly more vulnerable.” As for the bloggers, online journalists and social networkers who are increasingly connecting global audiences with information and images from inaccessible places, they, like the stringers, “work without the sort of institutional protections—including lawyers, money, and professional affiliations—that can help shield them from harassment or detention.” Zakaria provides the sobering reminder that half the news people in jail worldwide are online journalists.

While surveying the globe, the report pays special attention to those countries in which journalists suffered most last year, including Iran. Neatly summing up the current media situation there, Newsweek’s Maziar Bahari, who spent 118 days in Tehran’s Evin prison, tells CPJ that the Revolutionary Guards have essentially criminalized journalism in their post-election crackdown.