Committee to Protect Journalists



New York, NY

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $9,625,276
Expenses: $7,345,573
Assets: $21,408,622




Michael Massing, Laurie Nadel


Non-profit advocacy organization

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The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an advocacy organization that supports persecuted journalists and political prisoners around the world, financially assisting those in prison or in danger. Aside from providing support for journalists in danger, CPJ has taken critical stances on freedom of the press in the United States. In 2013, CPJ commissioned a report which criticized the Obama administration for its lack of transparency and its attempts to prevent press leaks. The report especially criticized the administration for prosecuting eight journalists under the 1917 Espionage Act, more than all other presidential administrations combined. 1

CPJ is a member of the Journalists in Distress Network, along with organizations including Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) and the Media Legal Defense Initiative. CPJ is also a founding member of A Culture of Safety (ACOS) and of the One Free Press Coalition, two organizations that promote free journalism. 2 3

Between 1993 and 2019, CPJ was awarded over $1 million in grants from the left-of-center John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation. 4 It has also received funding from the Bloomberg, Ford, Annenberg, and John S. and James L. Knight Foundations. 5


In 1981, a group of journalists included Michael Massing and Laurie Nadel founded Committee to Protect Journalists and named famed left-wing CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite as its founding honorary chairman. CPJ launched its first advocacy campaign in 1982 to support the release of three British journalists who were detained in Argentina during the Falklands War. 6 Later that year, CPJ hastened the release of Kazi Nurrazaman, a Bangladeshi military officer who had been imprisoned for his public criticism of Bangladesh’s military practices. 7

Since its founding, numerous celebrities supported CPJ, including left-of-center actress Meryl Streep and news anchors Shep Smith and Lester Holt. In 2018, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association awarded CPJ a $1 million grant. Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather, who departed the network amid controversy over reporting apparently fabricated documents purporting to implicate then-President George W. Bush in having gone AWOL during his military service,8 was a board member with CPJ for 30 years, and later worked for CPJ as a senior advisor. 9

In 2017, CPJ received $50,000 as part of a civil settlement between then-U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte (R-MT) and Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. Following a 2017 physical altercation between Rep. Gianforte and the reporter, Jacobs sued the congressman. Later, Jacobs agreed to drop the lawsuit in  exchange for a written apology and the $50,000 donation to CPJ. CPJ tried to take the donation several steps further, meeting with Gianforte in an attempt to secure his further support for the organization by convincing him to join the Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press or the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Rep. Gianforte did not join either group. 10


CPJ board chair Kathleen Carroll is the former executive editor and vice president of the Associated Press. Carroll has previously worked  as editor of the Dallas Morning News, San Jose Mercury, and the International Herald Tribune. She is also a former co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board. 11

Jacob Weisberg, vice chair of the CPJ, is the chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, which includes Slate, The Root, and Weisberg is also a board member of the Philadelphia Media Network which controls the Philadelphia Inquirer, that city’s largest newspaper. He is also author of The Bush Tragedy, a book on the “downfall” of former President George W. Bush. 12


CPJ frequently organizes campaigns to protect at-risk journalists in foreign countries and reduce regulations on the press around the world. One of CPJ’s largest projects, the Campaign Against Impunity, tracks reports of assassinated journalists with the idea that public exposure will urge government officials to prosecute their killers. As part of this project, CPJ maintains the Impunity Index, a running tally of journalists killed across the world. According to CPJ, 90% of those who assassinate journalists are exonerated for their crimes or never tried for them. 13

CPJ also operates the Gene Roberts Emergency Fund. Named after CPJ’s former board chair, the Fund provides emergency grants for journalists facing political pressure that places them in danger or directs them to other possible resources if CPJ is unable to assist. 14

In 2019, CPJ helped organize the escape and repatriation of over 80 journalists from the Idlib province of northern Syria during the country’s occupation by Iran. 15 CPJ also claims to have aided in the early release of more than 300 imprisoned journalists around the world since 2015. 16

Justice for Jamal Campaign

Following the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, CPJ filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the release of information gathered by the intelligence community related to his death. CPJ has expressed suspicion that the Trump administration failed to warn Khashoggi of the threat to his life, launching the Justice for Jamal campaign to place further pressure on the investigation into his death. 17

During a CPJ press conference in front of the White House, Justice for Jamal founder Ahmed Bedier accused the Trump administration of “helping Saudi Arabia cover up” his murder. During the same press conference, CPJ advocacy director Courtney Radsch demanded that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo request a United Nations investigation into the murder. 18

The Obama Administration and the Press

In 2013, CPJ commissioned a report entitled “The Obama Administration and the Press,” written by former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie Jr. Downie produced a scathing review of the Obama administration, criticizing the administration for prosecuting eight individuals under the 1917 Espionage Act for leaking information to the press. Prior to the Obama administration, the country had only prosecuted three individuals total under the Espionage Act. 19

The report sponsored by CPJ also alleged that the Obama administration had subpoenaed phone records and emails from journalists without their knowledge and had seized records of Associated Press switchboards and telephone lines between April and May of 2012. 20

The report further excoriated the Obama administration for its Insider Threat Program, an initiative which encouraged employees to turn in coworkers who they suspected of leaking information to the press. As part of this initiative, organized by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, employees would be forced to take regular polygraph tests asking if they had leaked any classified information. In response to the measure, New York Times reporter David E. Sanger is quoted in the CPJ report as saying, “This is the most closed, control freak administration I have ever covered.” 21


  1. Downie, Leonard. “The Obama Administration and the Press.” CPJ Website. October 10, 2013. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  2. CPJ. “How you Helped Journalists in 2019.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  3. CPJ. “Advocacy.” CPJ Website. Undated. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  4. Macarthur Foundation. “Committee to Protect Journalists.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  5. O’Dwyer, Jack. “Institute for PR, Looking for Staff Head, Has Golden Opportunity.” Website. November 17, 2014. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  6. CPJ. “History.” CPJ Website. Undated. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  7. LaFranchi, Howard. “How One Group Monitors Human Rights for Journalists.” The Christian Science Monitor. December 28, 1982. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  8. Campenni, William. “The Truth About Dan Rather’s Deceptive Reporting on George W. Bush.” The Daily Signal, October 31, 2015.
  9. CPJ. “Spotlight on Giving.” CPJ Website. Undated. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  10. Radsch, Courtney C. “CPJ Meeting with Gianforte is Disappointingly Brief. CPJ Website. October 12, 2017. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  11. CPJ. “Board of Directors.” CPJ Website. Undated. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  12. CPJ. “Board of Directors.” CPJ Website. Undated. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  13. CPJ. “Getting Away with Murder.” CPJ Website. Undated. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  14. CPJ. “Gene Roberts Emergency Fund.” CPJ Website. Undated. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  15. Omari, Shazdeh. “They Saved My Life.” CPJ Website. February 28, 2020. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  16. CPJ. “How you Helped Journalists in 2019.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  17. De Dora, Michael. “US Intelligence Community Should Explain Document Denial in Khashoggi Case, CPJ Lawsuit Argues.” CPJ Website. July 7, 2020. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  18. CPJ. “CPJ Press Conference at White House.” Youtube. February 7, 2019. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  19. Downie, Leonard. “The Obama Administration and the Press.” CPJ Website. October 10, 2013. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  20. Downie, Leonard. “The Obama Administration and the Press.” CPJ Website. October 10, 2013. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  21. Downie, Leonard. “The Obama Administration and the Press.” CPJ Website. October 10, 2013. Accessed October 21, 2020.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 1982

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $9,625,276 $7,345,573 $21,408,622 $927,474 N $7,317,749 $0 $231,425 $790,547
    2016 Dec Form 990 $8,420,662 $5,788,807 $19,403,666 $784,406 N $7,913,739 $0 $246,717 $761,559
    2015 Dec Form 990 $5,281,111 $5,509,041 $16,834,681 $873,030 N $4,880,373 $0 $335,150 $364,413 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $7,231,396 $5,031,398 $17,560,486 $784,146 N $6,331,771 $0 $396,613 $368,893 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $3,736,206 $4,591,405 $15,433,663 $572,830 N $3,247,036 $0 $260,049 $201,427 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $3,049,944 $4,538,182 $15,141,228 $676,697 N $2,592,519 $0 $314,835 $198,060 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $6,608,419 $4,152,795 $15,427,506 $475,092 N $6,477,143 $0 $255,546 $188,700 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Committee to Protect Journalists

    509 WEST 38TH ST 5TH FLOOR
    New York, NY 10018-0000