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Committee of Suspect Journalists

By Thomas C. Mountain

08 May, 2012

Press Watchdog Fails “Journalism for Beginners” in World Press Freedom Report

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) recently issued their annual report on the status of freedom of the press in the world in which the lead article charges, amongst other things, that there are no independent journalists allowed in the East African country of Eritrea. (http://cpj.org/reports/2012/05/10-most-censored-countries.php#1)

Unfortunately for CPJ their own web site carries an article which identifies the author as an “independent... journalist”, “reporting from Eritrea since 2006” and provides contact information to verify this claim.(Sep 19, 2011 ... Here you can read more about the leaked cable. Wikileaks Ethiopia Files: Ethiopia Bombs Itself, Blames Eritrea by Thomas C. Mountain cpj.org/blog/2011/09/in-ethiopia-case-a-response-to-wikileaks.php).

Talk about failing “Journalism for Beginners 100”, where you write a report and don't even check your own web site to see if if there might be anything that may raise doubts about your report?

CPJ’s problems with fact checking don't end here for their coverage of the controversy surrounding more than a dozen Eritrean journalists arrested over a decade ago appears to be based only on hear say evidence. They have so far failed to provide any of the original articles published in Eritrea they claim criticized the Eritrean government and are the real reason these journalists were arrested.

Apparently no one, including CPJ, has any of the original articles these journalists published. The only “evidence” provided to anyone to support their charges against the Eritrean government for violating press freedom is a translation of the articles. No one has provided even a photo copy of the original articles published in Eritrea in the Tigrinia language.

Again, talk about failing Journalism for Beginners, aren't journalists supposed to have at least a photo copy of the original source material as evidence, not someone else's “translations” before they make very serious charges against anyone?

It probably shouldn't be much of a surprise that such shoddy work seems to prevail even in “press watchdogs” when one recalls the many Pulitzer Prizes (a.k.a. P-U litzer Prize) awarded for articles over the past decades that turned out to be complete fabrications.

That's right, the most “prestigious” press award in the USA has been given for articles that were simply made up. That no one ever bothered to check to see if there was any truth to them at all before giving them the award.

Considering that the newspapers that published these bogus “award winning” articles also published the infamous WMD’s in Iraq charges with out blinking one shouldn't be surprised.

The problem is that CPJ, by charging that there are NO independent journalists in Eritrea, commits a backhanded slander against any journalist in Eritrea claiming to be independent, and in this case, reporting for over 5 years from the country.

So what is it CPJ, is your web site wrong and there are no independent journalists in Eritrea? Or is your report wrong, that there is an independent journalist in the country and you simply failed Journalism for Beginners?

Committee to Protect Journalists or Committee of Suspect Journalists? You be the judge.

Thomas C. Mountain is the only independent western journalist in the Horn of Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain at yahoo dot com and challenges anyone to provide proof that he is in anyway linked to the Eritrean government, or any government for that matter.


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