In India, Aasif Sultan is behind bars on anti-state charges for his coverage of the conflict in Kashmir. In South Sudan, editor Anna Nimiriano is fighting to protect her publication — the Juba Monitor — and is under constant threat of imprisonment from the government. And in Myanmar, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are still in jail for violating the country’s official secrets act, a charge that Reuters says is baseless.
These are three cases on the One Free Press Coalition’s “10 Most Urgent” list, alerting the public to journalists in peril.
On Wednesday the coalition came out with a new list and doubled the number of news organizations that are members.
The members want to make sure that “people don’t forget” about these cases, said Randall Lane, the top editor of Forbes magazine. “That’s probably the most powerful thing we can do, is remind the entire world that these injustices continue to happen.”
Lane jump-started the idea for the coalition at a World Economic Forum meeting in January. Speaking with Brian Stelter on this week’s “Reliable Sources” podcast, he recalled speaking with editors at other media companies and saying “the collective audience in this room has got to be approaching a billion people. Why don’t we just all commit to get behind this together as a coalition once a month, and shine a spotlight on the most egregious cases?”
News outlets such as the AP, the Financial Times, HuffPost and Reuters joined the coalition within weeks. The first list came out in March. A new list will come out on the first day of each month.
“It’s obviously a tip of the hat towards the FBI’s ‘Ten Most Wanted’ list,” he said. “But this is about 10 people who are doing good instead of who’ve done bad.”
From Saudi Arabia to Colombia, Turkey to Tanzania, journalists face harassment, prosecution and violence for their work. “And we need to shine a light on it,” Lane said.
“We’ve already gotten notes from people from the list saying ‘I feel so much better, I feel much safer knowing that the world is watching,’” he added.
Some of the 16 new coalition members, announced on Wednesday, are The Washington Post, WIRED magazine and BuzzFeed.
The monthly requirements for member media organizations are “really simple,” Lane said. It’s all about amplification of the list. “We leave it flexible so that each outlet can do what it sees best based on who its readers are,” he said. “That way we’re able to greatly increase the reach and play to each strength of each audience.”
The Washington Post will run the list as a full-page ad each month as a part of its own effort to spotlight journalists in peril — the Press Freedom Partnership. The Post’s initiative started after contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed last fall.
The expectation is that half of the “10 Most Urgent” cases will be “ongoing,” while others will be new each month to draw attention to various cases.
Khashoggi, for example, was on March’s list and is back on the list in May, Lane said, because justice still has not been done.