Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Committee to Protect Journalists records, 1978-2009

Summary Information

Abstract

The records of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) document the organization's work in promoting press freedom around the world and include clippings, correspondence, minutes, planning materials, publications, and research materials.

At a Glance

Call No.: HR#0010
Bib ID 7745809 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Committee to Protect Journalists
Title Committee to Protect Journalists records, 1978-2009
Physical Description 251 linear feet (202 record storage cartons and 1 video box)
Language(s) The material is primarily in English, but material in case and country files may also be in local languages including Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, French, German, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, and Turkish.
Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in 13 series.

Description

Summary

The records of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) primarily document the Board of Directors, the International Press Freedom Awards Dinner, coverage of CPJ in the press, and actions, cases, programs, research, and publications related to the organization's work in documenting press conditions and promoting press freedom in individual countries and regions.

The coverage of the collection extends through 2008, but is most comprehensive through the early 2000s for most series of records at this time.

The Board of Directors' records include correspondence (1980-1994) and materials related to board meetings and minutes (1981-1995), as well as Executive Committee (1989-1997) and other committee records (1990, 1995-1997). The Board of Directors' records also include the organization's articles of incorporations and several versions of its bylaws. Records such as members' biographies and members' lists are included in this series, but are incomplete. The collection does not currently include any board records for 1998-present.

The International Press Freedom Awards Dinner (IPFAD), which was started in 1991, is well-documented in the collection, particular for 1994-1999. The files include information on the awardees, event planning, and press coverage of the event. The coverage of other CPJ events is less comprehensive; most of these files can be found in Series IV: CPJ Office Files.

The collection also contains good documentation of the press' coverage of CPJ. CPJ kept clippings of instances where CPJ's work was discussed in the press or where CPJ was cited as a source of information, and used a clippings service to assist in this documentation effort. The collection contains both chronological and topical clippings for 1981-2008.

The collection's largest portion of records deals with actions, cases, programs, research, and publications related to the organization's work in documenting press conditions and promoting press freedom in individual countries and regions. There is a separate series of that documents only country actions and protest letters in Series V. The majority of the other records related to this work are filed in Series VI. Much of the documentation is Series VI consists of records related to CPJ's data-gathering activities, conducted for the purpose of investigating and documenting cases and press conditions. Many of these records consist of research materials gathered from secondary sources. Other records - correspondence, documentation of telephone calls, press releases, protest letters, etc. - tend to be mixed in with the research materials in the same files. CPJ publications that document CPJ's activities and press conditions in particular countries are filed in Series VII: Publications.

Series VII: Publications contains published newsletters, serial publications, reports, and other publications issued by CPJ. The collection's coverage of these publications is best before the mid-1990s, when CPJ began to regularly distribute publications and reports through its website.

There is a lack of certain types of records in the collection which would provide more comprehensive documentation of the organization as a whole. In particular, there is a lack of Executive Directors' records, financial records, membership records, policy documents, and press releases in the collection.

There are few records from Executive Directors, and a small set of records related to William Orne is incomplete and was probably created and maintained by secretarial staff. There are no complete and identifiable sets of records kept by Executive Directors currently present in the collection.

The collection includes a small amount of CPJ policy documents, procedural manuals, and informational materials outside of the Board of Directors records. Materials of this type were gathered together and placed in Series IV: CPJ Office Files. There are additional materials of this type found with Alice Chasan's files that were kept with her materials in Series VIII.1.

The collection also lacks financial records, including annual financial statements, budgets, and tax documents. There are no annual reports in the collection. Existing financial records are included in Series IV: CPJ Office Files. These primarily include records from 1981-1984, although there are a few records from the mid-1990s. There are records related to development efforts and grants in Series IX: Development, but they are incomplete.

There are few membership records in the collection; these are also filed in Series IV: CPJ Office Files. The few existing files date from 1989-1990 and 1999-2000.

The documentation of activities related to communications and publicity is incomplete and the coverage is uneven. The majority of existing files date from the 1990s. Most problematic is the lack of a single series of press releases; these are scattered in files related to country and program work, events, and publicity throughout the collection.

There is also little audiovisual material in the records. This is primarily because CPJ does not produce much of its own audiovisual material, and instead obtains material from news organizations such as the Associated Press for many of its publications. The collection does have some audiovisual material, particularly photographs, filed in Series VI, VIII, XI and XIII.

  • Series I: Board of Directors, 1981-1997

    This series includes board and committee meeting minutes and related materials, correspondence, lists of board members, subject files, and files related to individual board members. The files include CPJ's articles of incorporation and several versions of its bylaws.

  • Series II: Chronological Files, 1984 November-1994

    This series contains chronological correspondence files for the organization.

  • Series III: Clippings Files, 1981-2008

    CPJ kept clippings files of stories that either mentioned the CPJ's work or cited CPJ as a source. CPJ used a clipping service to help document this news coverage.

  • Series IV: CPJ Office Files, 1978-2004

    This series contains CPJ brochures, information sheets, manuals, and mission statements, as well as files related to CPJ events, finances, policies, training programs, and projects. The series also contains general subject files and several files kept by the office of Executive Director William Orne.

  • Series V: County Action Files and Protest Letters, 1978-1999

    This series contains documentation regarding country-specific actions. The documentation primarily consists of press releases, protest letters, and responses.

    There are additional records of this type in the files in Series VI: Country and Regional Program and Research Files.

  • Series VI: Country & Regional Program & Research Files, 1981-2007

    This series contain files related to both regional and country-specific programs and research activities. These files primarily document the data-gathering activities of CPJ for the purposes of investigating and documenting cases and press conditions. As such, most of the material in these files consists of research material obtained from secondary sources, although the files also contain some correspondence, research notes, and documentation of telephone calls.

    These files also contain records that document CPJ actions, campaigns, missions, and protests, and include clippings, correspondence, field notes, planning documents, photographs, and protest letters.

    Additional information on case lists, cases, imprisoned and killed journalists, missions, programs, publications, and reports can be found in Series VII: Publications and Series VIII: Communications and Publicity.

    The series is divided into six subseries based upon the regional divisions currently used by CPJ:

    -Subseries VI.1. General, 1990-2001

    -Subseries VI.2. Africa, 1981-2007

    -Subseries VI.3. Americas, 1979-2004

    -Subseries VI.4. Asia, 1981-2006

    -Subseries VI.5. Europe and Central Asia, 1981-2005

    -Subseries VI.6. Middle East and North Africa, 1981-2007

  • Series VII: Publications and Reports, 1982-2007

    This series contains published newsletters, serial publications, reports, and other publications issued by CPJ. The collection's coverage of these publications is best before the mid-1990s, when CPJ began to regularly distribute publications on its website.

  • Series VIII: Communications and Publicity

    This series contains both the files of staff members who had responsibility for communications and general subject files related to communications, contacts, distribution, missions, programs, publicity pieces and events, and publication projects. The records include case lists, contact lists, correspondence, drafts, lists of killed and imprisoned journalists, photographs, press releases, and planning documents.

  • Series IX: Development, 1981-2001

    This series contains records related to organizational fundraising efforts.

  • Series X: International Press Freedom Award Dinners (IPFAD), 1991-2007, undated

    The International Press Freedom Awards are presented annually by CPJ to journalists or publications that have courageously provided independent news coverage and viewpoints despite facing attacks, threats, or imprisonment. The dinner also serves as a benefit that raises funds for CPJ's operating needs. The files include information on the awardees, event planning, press coverage, and include attendee information, biographical statements, correspondence, press packets, photographs, press releases, transcripts, and videotapes.

  • Series XI: Audiovisual Materials, 1980s-2001, undated

    This series contains audiovisual materials such as audiotapes, photographs, and videotapes, as well as electronic files on computer disks.

  • Series XII: Organization Files, 1978-2002

    The files in this series contain a combination of correspondence and informational materials related to other organizations. Except for a few major organizations, the files are primarily small in size.

  • Series XIII: Additions, 1997-2009

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Committee to Protect Journalists Records; Box and Folder; Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Accrual

Additions are expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed by Catherine C. Ricciardi 2010-2012.

Finding aid written by Catherine C. Ricciardi September 2012.

Revision Description

2012-08-31 File created.

2013-06-27 File updated by Catherine C. Ricciardi

2012-09-05 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

2016-11-14 XML document instance updated by Patrick Lawlor

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Censorship Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Committee to Protect Journalists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Freedom of the press Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Government and the press Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Human rights advocacy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Journalism -- Political aspects Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Journalists -- Crimes against Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Journalists -- Death Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Journalists -- Protection Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Journalists -- Violence against Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Press and politics Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Press law Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) was founded at a time when violence against journalists was escalating, particularly in Latin America. A particular case, involving Alcibiades Gonzalez Delvalle, inspired the founding of CPJ. In 1980, Gonzalez, a prominent Paraguayan newspaper columnist, was touring in the United States when he was informed that a warrant for his arrest had been issued in Asuncion, and his case was publicized prior to his return to Paraguay. The case continued to receive media attention upon Gonzalez's arrest, and the resulting pressure on the Paraguayan government led to his release. But in working on this case, journalists who had helped Gonzalez in the United States also realized that there was no organization of American journalists dedicated to assisting their colleagues working in foreign countries. This group approached other reporters, columnists, and editors who had demonstrated an interest in freedom of the press. The most prominent of these was Walter Cronkite, who agreed to serve as the honorary chairman for the newly formed CPJ.

CPJ has grown tremendously since its founding in 1981. Its work has expanded to deal not only with freeing imprisoned journalists, but also working for their safety, and arranging safe conduct for those in immediate danger. The CPJ continues to work for freedom for journalists, the press, and other media outlets by documenting, publicizing, and protesting abuses of the press around the world.