CPJ, NLA launch initiative to boost reporting on press freedom in the U.S.

U.S. Press Freedom Accountability Project to award grants for coverage of attacks on journalists during Black Lives Matter protests

In light of recent unprecedented attacks on journalists around the United States, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in collaboration with the News Leaders Association (NLA), on Thursday launched the U.S. Press Freedom Accountability Project. The initiative will support local reporting on press freedom violations and accountability in relation to coverage of protests against police violence.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is investigating reports of more than 700 press freedom violations, including arrests, assaults, tear gassing, and journalists hit with rubber bullets, during Black Lives Matter protests around the U.S. since late May. Journalists have been partially blinded, attacked with a crowbar, and arrested while live on air. Law enforcement was behind two-thirds of the physical attacks, according to the Tracker’s preliminary data.

The U.S. Press Freedom Accountability Project, funded by CPJ, will provide grants between $2,000 and $5,000 for newsrooms reporting on threats to journalists in the U.S. during the demonstrations, with a priority to pieces that can be published in one to three months.

“For more than a generation, the Committee to Protect Journalists has defended journalists around the world by reporting on attacks and threats against the press. Now it’s time to intensify these efforts at home,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy executive director. “Only by holding accountable those who have assaulted or hindered the work of the press during the Black Lives Matter protests do we ensure that reporters can serve us, the public.”

Funding is intended to support on-the-ground local reporting, particularly from small newsrooms, freelancers, and underrepresented groups.

“News Leaders Association has a long history of fighting for free speech and an independent press,” said Fran Reilly, Executive Director of NLA. “We believe it is essential that local newsrooms around the country have the resources to investigate the attacks on journalists during the recent protests. These grants will provide a critical source of funding for these important stories to be told.”

CPJ and NLA seek applications beginning today from across the country. Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis, and grants will be awarded starting October 1. A panel of experts organized by NLA and CPJ will review applications.

Questions can be directed to contact@newsleaders.org.

Published articles will inform CPJ’s efforts to secure accountability for attacks on the press. CPJ and its partners have called on President Trump, Congress, and state authorities to defend press freedom and ensure law enforcement allows journalists to do their job. (In this link, you can see a copy of CPJ’s June 10, 2020, letter to Governor Beshear.) CPJ Emergencies has provided up-to-date safety information for journalists covering the protests, as well as specialized advice for journalists covering the U.S. elections.

ABOUT
The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.
News Leaders Association aims to foster and develop the highest standards of trustworthy, truth-seeking journalism; to advocate for open, honest and transparent government; to fight for free speech and an independent press and to nurture the next generation of news leaders committed to spreading knowledge that informs democracy.

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