""Don’t wait to be deprived of news to stand up and fight for it"
In some countries a journalist can be thrown in prison for years for a single offending word or photo. Jailing or killing a journalist removes a vital witness to events and threatens the right of us all to be informed. Reporters Without Borders has fought for press freedom on a daily basis since it was founded in 1985.
Investigate, expose and support
Reporters Without Borders:
- defends journalists and media assistants imprisoned or persecuted for doing their job and exposes the mistreatment and torture of them in many countries.
- fights against censorship and laws that undermine press freedom.
- gives financial aid each year to 300 or so journalists or media outlets in difficulty (to pay for lawyers, medical care and equipment) as well to the families of imprisoned journalists.
- works to improve the safety of journalists, especially those reporting in war zones.
Before taking action, Reporters Without Borders researchers, who each handle a region (Africa, the Americas, Asia/Pacific, Europe and the former Soviet bloc, Middle East/ North Africa) or a topic such as the Internet, compile reports of press freedom violations. After checking the information, the researchers and the organisations’ correspondents send protest letters to the authorities to put pressure on governments which do not respect the right to inform and to be informed, and send releases to the media to drum up support for the journalists under attack.
Sometimes gathering information is not enough. A Reporters Without Borders fact-finding mission is then sent to investigate on the spot the working conditions of journalists, as well as cases of imprisoned or murdered journalists, and also to meet with the authorities in the country concerned.
Publicity campaigns conducted with the help of public relations firms aim to inform people and try to give countries which do not respect this basic right a bad name in the eyes of international institutions, the media and governments that have ties with them.
Reporters Without Borders is funded by the sale of its third-annual albums of photographs as well as calendars, by auctions, small and large donations, member dues, public grants and partnerships with private firms.
An international organisation
Reporters Without Borders is present in all five continents through its national branches (in Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland), its offices in London, New York and Washington, and the more than 140 correspondents it has in other countries. The organisation also works closely with local and regional press freedom groups that are members of the Reporters Without Borders Network, in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Burma, Democratic Congo, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Honduras, Iraq, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Romania, Russia, Somalia, the United States, Zimbabwe, Lebanon and Tunisia.
Reporters Without Borders is registered in France as a non-profit organisation and has consultant status at the United Nations.
In 2005, the organisation won the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
A constantly-updated website
All the organisation’s press releases and publications are available online in six languages (Arabic, English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Persian) at its website www.rsf.org which keeps a daily-updated list of journalists killed or imprisoned around the world. It also contains detailed reports on special cases and invites the public to sign online petitions for the release of jailed journalists.
Press freedom events
As well as its daily press releases, fact-finding mission reports and regular publications, Reporters Without Borders stages several annual events to highlight the issue of press freedom.
The round-up of press freedom in the world In January, the organisation summarises the previous year, with the number of journalists arrested, threatened, physically attacked or killed and media censored.
World Day Against Cyber-Censorship Launched by Reporters Without Borders in 2008, World Day Against Cyber-Censorship (on 12 March) is intended to rally everyone in support of a single Internet without restrictions and accessible to all. On the eve of the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, Reporters Without Borders awards its Netizen Prize to a blogger, online journalist or cyber-dissident - who has helped to promote freedom of expression on the Internet.
World Press Freedom Day On this day (May 3), Reporters Without Borders publishes its list of the predators of press freedom, as well as a book of photographs which is sold to raise money for the organisation to continue its work.
The Worldwide Press Freedom Index Issued in October, measuring the degree of freedom journalists and media have in more than 170 countries.
The Reporters Without Borders Prize In December. This honours a journalist who, by work, attitude or principled stands, has shown strong belief in press freedom, a media outlet that exemplifies the battle for the right to inform the public and to be informed, a defender of press freedom and a cyber-dissident spearheading freedom of expression online.
100 photographs for press freedom Reporters Without Borders has been publishing books of photographs since 1992 to help fund its activities. Nowadays, three collections are published each year (in may, september and december). The entire income from the sale of these books of photos goes back to Reporters Without Borders and covers at least 50 per cent of its budget."