One Free Press Coalition Spotlights Journalists Under Attack – October 2020

In May 2019, WIRED joined the One Free Press Coalition, a united group of preeminent editors and publishers using their global reach and social platforms to spotlight journalists under attack worldwide. On October 1, 2020 the Coalition launched the 20th monthly “10 Most Urgent” list, ranked in order of urgency and focused on women journalists under threat globally.

Gender-based violence and harassment—both online and offline—is often used to silence and intimidate female journalists. Due to social stigmas and fears of professional repercussions, some journalists do not report these incidents, while others re-evaluate the type of stories they cover or even give up journalism entirely.

In a 2019 CPJ survey of female and nonbinary journalists in the US and Canada:

  • 85 percent of respondents believe journalists have become less safe in the past five years, and more than 70 percemt have experienced safety issues or threats.
  • The survey found female journalists are at risk even in countries not traditionally viewed as hostile to the press.

According to a report by Trollbusters and IWMF in 2018:

  • More than 70 percent of women have experienced more than one type of harassment, threat or attack in the past.
  • Nearly one-third of female journalists consider leaving the profession due to online attacks and threats.

Since 1992, 97 female journalists have been killed in connection to their work, according to CPJ, and 20 women were behind bars in 2019.

Online harassment of female journalists is not unique to one country, and should be taken seriously by newsrooms around the world. CPJ has documented threats and harassment in many countries including Pakistan, South Africa, India, Brazil and the Netherlands concerning journalists covering beats from sports to politics.

Here’s October’s list, ranked in order of urgency:

1. Solafa Magdy (Egypt)
Trial repeatedly delayed for imprisoned journalist at heightened health risk.

In August, Egyptian state prosecutors filed additional charges against Solafa Magdy, who has been held in pretrial detention since November. The new claims accuse Magdy of membership in a terrorist group, spreading false news and misusing social media while weathering the pandemic in jail alongside her husband, enduring inhumane conditions, medical neglect and increased risk of contracting Covid-19. Magdy’s arrest stemmed from freelance coverage of immigration and human rights in Cairo.

2. Gulmire Imin (China)
Journalist serving life in prison since Uighur protests 10 years ago.

Uighur journalist Gulmire Imin has served more than 10 years of a life sentence behind bars. One of several administrators of Uighur-language web forums who were arrested after the July 2009 riots in Urumqi, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Imin was charged with organizing an illegal demonstration, separatism and leaking state secrets by phone to her husband, who lives in Norway. China is the leading jailer of journalists, counting 48 in detention as of 2019.

3. Maria Ressa (Philippines)
News website founder fighting fines and six-year sentence.