Speakers at a Congressional panel on Tuesday about "Bloggers Behind Bars" stressed the need for the international community to protect press freedom abroad as more and more online journalists face harassment, violence and jail.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California emphasized the need to protect online journalists, given they make up more than half of those jailed for news coverage. He pointed to the Iranian elections as an example when online journalists covered an event after the mainstream media was asked to leave the country. A bystander’s footage of Neda Agha-Soltan dying in the street became an iconic image that won the George Polk Award for videography in 2009, though it was not produced or distributed by a major news organization.
Other speakers at the event, which was sponsored by the Center for International Media Assistance, included Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., National Endowment for Democracy President Carl German, Robert Mahoney of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Rob Faris of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Iranian freelance journalist Omid Memarian and Tienchi Martin-Lao of Independent Chinese PEN Center.