7 Committed Advocates For Press Freedom
Freedom of the press is a vital component of any democracy, and writers and activists often take considerable risks to speak truth to power. While this work can at times be dangerous, there are, thankfully, a number of organizations advocating on behalf of journalists. Here, listed in no particular order, are several groups defending free expression in the media.
Coming in at #1 is the Society of Editors. Based in Cambridge, the organization works to protect freedom of the press, which it defends as part of the universal right to freedom of expression, and champions the importance of a vital news media to a democratic society. Its membership comes from a variety of sectors, from broadcasting and digital media to journalism and education.
To further its mission, the Society runs a number of campaigns. Past initiatives have focused on defending freedom of expression in the virtual sphere, promoting coverage of court proceedings, and calling attention to local media efforts across the United Kingdom. It complements this work with its online presence, offering commentary on current events and the news via its blog.
In the #2 spot is the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. Founded in 2014, this nonprofit advocates for the safety of journalists around the world, in particular working to bring home Americans taken hostage. The organization is named after James Wright Foley, a dedicated reporter and video journalist who was kidnapped and murdered in Syria.
The Foundation carries out its mission in a variety of ways, focusing on education, advocacy, and awareness-raising events. In conjunction with Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and Marquette University's Diederich College of Communication, it has developed curricula for graduate and undergraduate programs. Areas of focus include risk assessment, working amidst civic unrest, and digital security.
At #3 is Index on Censorship. With the first issue of its magazine published in 1972, this nonprofit has a long, established history of defending free expression around the world. It challenges and fights against censorship through its magazine, website, and numerous campaigns.
Specific campaigns have centered on academic, artistic, digital, and media freedom and have advocated for scholars at risk, explored controversial works of art, and documented threats to journalism. Furthermore, Index on Censorship offers educational and advisory services, providing workshops and training to schools, nonprofits, and arts organizations.
Coming in at #4 is Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists' Safety. Originally established in 2016 and also known as SafeJournalists, this project comprises a network of journalist associations and media trade unions in Western Balkan countries. Funded by the European Union, it works to promote freedom of the press and the right to access information.
The network focuses on reporting and documenting specific instances of threats and violence against journalists, covering cases in places like Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. It also compiles relevant news articles on its website and shares valuable resources, research, and reports that shed light on its safety and media freedom efforts.
In the #5 spot is Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. Launched in 1981, this Toronto-based organization fights for freedom of the press and access to information both in Canada and around the world. A nonprofit, it views free expression as a fundamental part of democracy.
Through a variety of specialized funds and fellowships, CJFE provides support to journalists in distress, researchers and writers in Canada, and mid-career journalists from Latin America. It also engages in advocacy efforts, running campaigns that oppose mass surveillance and call for greater accountability for crimes against activists and reporters. Elsewhere, it releases an annual publication detailing significant free expression issues in Canada.
At #6 is Cartoonists Rights Network International. Firmly believing in creativity as a tool for communication, the Network fights to protect the rights of cartoonists. In particular, it takes a collaborative approach to defend artists who have been threatened as a result of their work.
CRNI offers the Robert Russell Courage in Cartooning Award, an annual honor given to an artist who has continued creating work despite political pressure and adversity. Past winners include Ramon Esono Ebale, Atena Farghadani, and Badiucao. On its website, the network collects information on cartoonists under threat, sharing updates on their work and ways they can be supported.
Last but not least, at #7 is the European Federation of Journalists. Headquartered in Brussels and created in 1994, the EFJ describes itself as Europe's largest organization of journalists. As a nonprofit, it defends the rights to freedom of expression and information and promotes strong trade unions and associations.
Collaborating with several other organizations, the Federation participates in the Media Freedom Rapid Response project, which provides practical support to journalists in Europe. Elsewhere, the EFJ has launched initiatives to promote gender equality and diversity, strengthen self-regulating press councils, and oppose hate speech.