World Press Freedom Day 2009: Safeguarding Journalists and Independent Media in Hostile Environments

In honor of World Press Freedom Day 2009, CIMA held a discussion on Capitol Hill about the safety of journalists worldwide. Congressman Adam Schiff made remarks on the importance of journalist safety, and speakers from the International News Safety Institute and the Committee to Protect Journalists addressed how attacks and threats against journalists are a brutal and highly effective weapon against press freedom and democracy and represent the most dangerous form of censorship. They discussed their organizations’ efforts to alleviate the physical challenges journalists face in high-risk countries and how they combat impunity in journalists’ murders and advocate for greater safety and protection of journalists. The discussion also featured two journalists from countries where media workers have been murdered with increasing impunity. They shared their stories as investigative journalists who have experienced threats and harassment for their reporting on corruption, explored which organizations’ efforts have been successful and why, and how stakeholders can help improve journalists’ safety. 

The videos of this event are split up by speaker. To download each video, click on the name of the speaker below. Right Click, Save Target As for best download speeds. Links to each speaker’s remarks follow each video.

Remarks by

Carl Gershman
National Endowment for Democracy
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Congressman Adam Schiff
U.S. House of Representatives
29th District, California
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David Lowe (moderator)
Vice President, Government and External Relations
National Endowment for Democracy


Featured Speakers

Joel Simon
Committee to Protect Journalists 
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Fatima Tlisova
Neiman Journalism Fellow, Harvard University
Editor in Chief, Regnum News Agency
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Jenny Manrique
Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Journalist, Comunicaciones Aliadas 
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Rodney Pinder
International News Safety Institute 
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Following the above remarks, panelists took questions from the audience. Click here to watch the Q&A session.

Honorary Co-Hosts
Senator Richard Lugar                    Congressman Adam Schiff
Senator Christopher Dodd               Congressman Michael Pence

Congressional Caucus for the Freedom of the Press Co-Chairs

About the Participants

Joel Simon is the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), where he has participated in the organization’s missions to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Yugoslavia, Tajikistan, Mexico, Colombia, and Gambia. Before joining CPJ in 1997, he worked as a journalist in California and Latin America, where he began his career as a writer and photographer. In 1989, Simon moved to Mexico City, working as a freelance writer and photographer for a number of U.S. publications covering immigration, environmental issues, and the debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement. From 1991 to 1994, Simon was based in San Francisco, working as a contributing editor to SFWeekly. He returned to Mexico in 1994 as a freelance correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, reporting on the Zapatista uprising and the peso devaluation in Mexico, while also making several reporting trips to Cuba. Simon has written widely on press issues for Columbia Journalism Review, Slate, and Newsday, among others.

Fatima Tlisova is an investigative journalist, researcher, and expert on human rights in the North Caucasus region of Russia. She has written extensively on human rights abuses, corruption, women’s rights, censorship, and the role of Islam in regional affairs. She has led several training workshops for journalists in the North Caucuses region and was editor in chief of the Regnum News Agency in the North Caucasus for three years. In 2006, she was awarded the German Zeit-Stiftung Gerd Bucerius Award for her commitment to reporting on the conflict in Chechnya, one year after receiving the Rory Peck Freelancer’s Choice Award for “continuous bravery, commitment to the story, and efforts to help fellow journalists.” Most recently, Tlisova won the Human Rights Award for journalism and Amnesty International Media Award for the best magazine article. During the 2007-2008 academic year, she was a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Kennedy School of Government, and is a Neiman Journalism Fellow at Harvard University for the 2008-2009 academic year.

Jenny Manrique is a research affiliate of MIT’s Center for International Studies, where she has been named an Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow for the 2008-2009 academic year by the International Women’s Media Foundation. During her fellowship, she wrote about migration issues while on a brief internship at The Boston Globe and will soon begin another internship with The New York Times. As a Colombian journalist, she has written for publications such as El Espectador and Vanguardia Liberal, covering kidnapping, drug trafficking, and refugee issues. For eight years, she reported on her country’s armed conflict, interviewing civilians and combatants, and has received several death threats for her reporting on paramilitary abuses in Bucaramanga province, which has forced her to practice journalism outside the country. Manrique writes for Comunicaciones Aliadas, a non-governmental online magazine based in Peru that focuses on Latin American news, particularly human rights. She has received numerous awards for her courageous reporting, including a Hellman/Hammett Grant from Human Rights Watch in 2007 and the Best Journalist in Bucaramanga Award in 2004 from the magazine La Ponzona Bucara. Manrique is also the only Latin American journalist to receive the Ochberg Fellowship from the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma in 2006. She is working toward a master’s degree in international affairs at Buenos Aires University in Argentina.

Rodney Pinder is director of the International News Safety Institute, a Brussels-based organization dedicated to the safety of journalists and other news media personnel working in areas of danger. He was a senior foreign correspondent and news executive for Reuters, serving for four years as global editor of Reuters Television News after covering international affairs in three continents for 37 years. He retired in 2002. Pinder has long experience in conflict reporting in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa, and Indonesia. Out of growing concern over a rising incidence of attacks on journalists, Pinder, with news organizations and support groups, established INSI in 2003 as a non-governmental, independent institute. INSI is a coalition of news media companies and individual journalists, media freedom groups, journalists’ unions, and humanitarian campaigners working to create a culture of safety in news gathering while operating as a network for safety information to help journalists in the field. The institute raises funds from international donors to provide basic safety training free of charge for journalists and other news professionals who are unable to afford their own. It has trained almost 1,200 news media staff and freelancers in 19 countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Congressman Adam Schiff represents California’s 29th Congressional District, and is a co-chair of the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Caucus for the Freedom of the Press. He is a member of the Judiciary Committee, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Appropriations Committee, as well as the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. Representative Schiff was elected to Congress in 2000, having served in the California State Senate for four years and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Los Angeles office for six years.