The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1981. We promote press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about CPJ.
In 1981, a group of U.S. foreign correspondents created CPJ in response to the often brutal treatment of their foreign colleagues by authoritarian governments and other enemies of independent journalism.
These journalists realized that they could use the tools of journalism to reveal press freedom threats and violations around the world, while standing in solidarity with their colleagues. For close to 40 years CPJ has defended the right of journalists to tell stories and bring news to their communities without fear of reprisal.
CPJ has headquarters in New York and an office in Washington, D.C. We have representatives, correspondents, or other specialists in cities including Bangkok, Beirut, Berlin, Brussels, Bogotá, Delhi, Istanbul, London, Mexico City, Nairobi, and Taipei. A board of prominent journalists directs CPJ’s activities.
CPJ is funded solely by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations. CPJ does not accept government funding. For a full list of major donors, please click here for our latest annual report.
Without a free press, few other human rights are attainable. A strong press freedom environment encourages the growth of a robust civil society, which leads to stable, sustainable democracies and healthy social, political, and economic development. CPJ works in more than 120 countries, many of which suffer under repressive regimes, debilitating civil war, conflict, or other circumstances that harm press freedom and put journalists at risk.
Since its founding in 1981, it has been CPJ’s mandate to take action when journalists are censored, harassed, threatened, attacked, jailed, abducted, or killed for their work, without regard to political ideology. To achieve this goal, CPJ documents cases, publishes in-depth reports, conducts high-level advocacy and campaigns on journalists’ behalf, and provides comprehensive, life-saving emergency support.
By publicizing abuses to the press and acting on behalf of imprisoned and threatened journalists, CPJ effectively warns journalists and news organizations where attacks on press freedom are occurring. CPJ works through diplomatic channels to effect change.
CPJ has full-time program coordinators monitoring the press in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Central Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa. In addition, CPJ’s Emergencies Response Team tracks online risks and regularly shares developments in journalist safety.
CPJ keeps journalists abreast of developments in press freedom through independent research, fact-finding missions, and firsthand contacts in the field, including reports from other journalists.
CPJ’s research staff document hundreds of attacks on the press each year. Each case identified as a violation of press freedom is corroborated by more than one source for factual accuracy, confirmation that the victims were journalists or news organizations, and verification that intimidation was the probable motive. CPJ defines journalists as people who cover news or comment on public affairs in print, in photographs, on radio, on television, or online. Writers, editors, publishers, producers, technicians, photographers, camera operators, and directors of news organizations are all included.
CPJ classifies press freedom violations according to the following definitions:
Seized and detained by a non-governmental entity. CPJ has determined that a credible claim of responsibility has been made.
In the case of journalists, wounded or assaulted, including sexualized assault; in the case of news facilities, damaged, raided, or searched; attacked because of news coverage or commentary.
Officially suppressed or banned; editions confiscated; news outlets closed.
Forced to leave a country because of news coverage or commentary.
Access denied or limited; materials confiscated or damaged; entry or exit denied; family members attacked or threatened; dismissed or demoted (when it is clearly the result of political or outside pressure); freedom of movement impeded; detained for less than 48 hours.
Arrested or detained by a government entity for at least 48 hours.
Murdered in retribution for, or to prevent, news coverage or commentary. Also includes journalists killed in conflict or crossfire or while covering dangerous assignments.
Killed (Motive Unconfirmed)
The motive for a journalist’s murder is unclear, but there is reason to believe it may be related to his or her professional duties. CPJ continues to research the reasons for the crime and encourages local authorities to pursue investigations.
Credentials denied or suspended; fined; sentenced to prison; visas denied or canceled; restrictive legislation; libel suit intended to inhibit coverage.
Vanished. No group has taken responsibility for the journalist’s disappearance; in some instances, feared dead.
Menaced with physical harm or some other type of retribution.
CPJ investigates each report of a journalist killed to determine whether the journalist was targeted because of his or her work. We do not classify a case as “confirmed” until we are reasonably certain that the death was related to the victim’s journalistic work.
When the motive for a murder is unclear–but there is reason to suspect that it may be related to the journalist’s profession–CPJ classifies that death as “motive unconfirmed” and continues to investigate.
With regard to both lists, CPJ continues to press for official investigations into the killings, as well as for the apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. We also document cases of media support workers killed for their work, and journalists who go missing in the line of duty.
When CPJ publicizes journalists killed on duty, it cites only those cases in which the motive has been “confirmed.” (Please see classifications and definitions above.) Lists compiled by other organizations may include journalists whose killings CPJ has not connected to their work with reasonable certainty. Other organizations may also list media activists and/or media support workers, such as drivers and interpreters. CPJ maintains a separate list of media support workers killed on duty.
Journalists in the United States face hostility from local and federal governments, along with a number of legal threats to themselves and their sources. The nonpartisan website provides reliable, easy-to-access information on the number of press freedom violations in the United States–from journalists facing charges to reporters stopped at the U.S. border or asked to hand over their electronics.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker brings together more than two dozen press freedom groups to create a centralized repository for research. The data gathered will help inform advocacy, journalism, and legal action.
In an emergency. Using local and foreign contacts, CPJ can intervene whenever local and foreign correspondents are in trouble. CPJ is prepared to notify news organizations, government officials, and human rights organizations immediately of press freedom violations.
When traveling on assignment. CPJ can advise journalists covering dangerous assignments.
When covering the news. Attacks against the press are news, and they often serve as the first signal of a crackdown on all freedoms. CPJ is uniquely situated to provide journalists with information and insight into press conditions around the world.
CPJ’s Emergencies Response Team provides comprehensive, life-saving support to journalists and media support staff at risk around the world through up-to-date safety and security information and rapid response assistance.
The team publishes safety advisories for journalists on the frontlines, and has a comprehensive toolkit with information on physical, digital, and psychological safety. CPJ also refers journalists to other resources such as grants, fellowships, and awards.
Sign up for CPJ security alerts here.
There are many ways to support CPJ. Explore our Advocacy Center to learn more about ongoing campaigns and initiatives, and sign up for our e-lists to get the latest in CPJ’s research and reporting. Lend your voice by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Donate to support CPJ.
Except where noted, all text on the CPJ.org website is licensed under Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For details about reuse, please click here. Most visual content is not covered by this license and permission must be obtained directly from the source. If you have further questions or would like to explore republishing under different guidelines, please send an email to email@example.com, identifying the material you wish to use and describing the publication or website where you intend for the material to appear.
Most photos on our website belong to The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Getty Images, and other news organizations, and CPJ cannot give permission to reproduce these photographs. Permission to use photos belonging to CPJ, as well as videos and other media, may be granted on request by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The annual awards dinner is a benefit that raises funds for CPJ’s operating needs. Attendance is by purchase of tables or tickets. Tickets cost US$1,000 each. Payment can be made by credit card or check. Checks are payable to the Committee to Protect Journalists and must be paid in U.S. dollars. Please note that the invitation from CPJ is an invitation to participate as a donor. For more information, please contact email@example.com.
CPJ’s Emergency Response Team maintains a journalist assistance program to help journalists in dire situations as a result of their work. The program is intended to aid journalists who have been physically assaulted and need medical attention; those who need to go into hiding or exile to escape threats; and those in prison who have specific, material needs. The program also refers journalists to other resources such as grants, fellowships, and awards.
CPJ may collect data about you when you:
The information we collect may include:
CPJ does not knowingly collect personal information from anyone under 13 years old without parental permission.
In the ordinary course we will use your personal information only for the following purposes:
We may also use your personal information in other ways if we have obtained your consent, or if applicable law requires us to do so.
It is possible that a governmental entity or a private litigant may attempt compel CPJ to disclose our users’ personal information. While CPJ ordinarily will endeavor to protect such information to the extent reasonably possible, CPJ reserves the right in its sole discretion to challenge or to comply with such attempts as it deems appropriate in the circumstances. Although CPJ endeavors to use reasonable technical and administrative security methods, we cannot guarantee the security of any information you provide to us.