The Red Cross of Journalism:
How the ‘Committee to Protect Journalists Organization’ helps journalists, is a history that very few people know about. The Committee to Protect Journalists (“CPJ”), has been termed journalism’s Red Cross. This small nonprofit organization has become the defender of journalists when they are suddenly jailed or held against their will in some remote region of the world. A group of U.S. Foreign correspondents founded this organization in 1981 in response to the harassment from authoritarian governments. CPJ is the determined force when journalists need rescuing from ruthless governments who hold the press responsible for their country’s upheavals and to keep information from leaking out.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is a New York City based organization who has saved the lives of many journalists on assignment that have been caught up terrible plights. They are a great international weapon, whose main tools are the latest in mobile technology. CPJ uses their mobile communication tools to make loud international outcries to reach the highest levels of a nation’s government, including the White House, embassies, and world bodies like the United Nations.
The Committee also works with human rights groups like Amnesty International to plan rescues, to provide immediate safe havens, and the missing journalists throughout the Middle East and the world. CPJ further used their Board of Directors, staff and high powered journalists whose names read like Brokaw and Cronkite, Katharine Graham, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Bill Kovach, Gene Roberts, Dan Rather, Bernard Shaw and John Seigenthaler. CPJ has a Who’s Who on their Board today, who also are ready to get into the trenches, when needed.
CPJ’s Back Work To Save Lives:
The Committee to Protect Journalists is currently working to help a Sudanese journalist, a Wall Street journalist jailed in Iran, and the trial of three Egyptian journalists. CPJ is also working other journalists who are in danger in Bahrain, injured journalists in Beirut, and other issues which keep their cell phone and tablets working overtime. CPJ also refers journalists to resources, including information on grants, fellowships, and awards. Additional examples of their work includes:
- Contributing to legal funds for journalists facing prison.
- Evacuating journalists at risk into temporary havens.
- Helping get medical care for journalists following brutal assaults in retaliation for their work, or for journalists suffering from mistreatment in prison.
- Providing support for families of imprisoned journalists.
- Supporting journalists forced to go into hiding or to relocate within their countries to escape threats from local officials, militia, or criminal gangs.
The Committee to Protect Journalists’ mission is to fill a gap between journalists and the government’s where they are assigned. The former Executive Director of CPJ, Bill Orme, stated that CPJ “operates on the notion that even cold-hearted dictators are sensitive to international pressure, especially if it is tied to the threat of losing economic aid – we practice a delicate combination of diplomacy and advocacy.”
CPJ is like the archival account of journalists who were murdered, intimidated and imprisoned in more than 100 countries. Many of these accounts were witnessed first hand by CPJ who conducted investigations on-site in some of the more dangerous areas in the world. When CPJ investigates press violations on international sites, members of the staff sometimes find themselves staring down the barrel of an AK-47 automatic rifle at checkpoints or being grilled by grim-faced Gestapo-like guards.
The Overall Benefits of CPJ:
Not many people, especially the public in the U.S. are aware of The Committee to Protect Journalists, but the Committee’s President reports that foreign nation’s certainly knows who CPJ is. Not only is CPJ on the front lines to help journalists, there are similar organizations, that includes the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists and Reports. However, CPJ is the only American organization that is designed to solely document, publicize, and respond to specific cases of press freedom violations. The Committee also provides traveling advice on body armor, first aid kit packaging, fact-finding missions, and warnings about current danger zones. Every year The Committee to Protect Journalists hosts the International Press Freedom Awards. The awards honors journalists or their publications around the world who show courage in defending press freedom despite facing attacks, threats, or imprisonment.
Jorge Ramos was the recipient of the International Press Freedom Award in 2014. As the anchor of Univision News and Fusion, he gave a speech that mirrored the mission of CPJ, in his remarks: “
sadly, we stayed silent before the war in Iraq and thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraq civilians died unnecessarily,” he continued. “We have to learn from that. Silence is the worst sin in journalism. But the best is when journalism becomes a way of doing justice and speaking truth to power.” The Committee to Protect Journalists promises to continue promoting press freedom and to defend the right of journalists to report new without the fear of reprisals.