Approximately 100 protested outside the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) annual International Press Freedom Awards dinner yesterday, November 16, chaired this year by New York Times President and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien. Equipped with posters featuring photographs of the journalists killed by the Israeli military in Gaza since October 7, members of the advocacy group Writers Bloc argued that the New York Times “has no interest in protecting journalists.”
Last Friday, Writers Bloc flooded the New York Times‘s Midtown headquarters with banners and custom-printed “New York (War) Crimes” broadsheets and banners in protest of the publication’s coverage. The protesters staged a reading of the broadsheets which were printed with the names of over 2,600 Palestinian children and 35 journalists killed by Israeli airstrikes following the Hamas attack and taking of hostages last month. The group cited the New York Times editorial board’s November 3 opinion arguing in favor of humanitarian pauses rather than a total ceasefire in Gaza, calling the piece indicative of the newspaper’s “complicity with Israel” as it repeated Israel’s claims that a ceasefire “would accomplish very little at this point.”
In a statement provided to Hyperallergic, Writers Bloc said it protested at the awards dinner yesterday evening in order to “call attention to this grotesque hypocrisy” and to “remind everyone in attendance exactly who their chair is.”
In response to Hyperallergic’s request for commment, New York Times SVP of Communications Danielle Rhoades Ho said, “The New York Times has extensively covered the Israel-Hamas war with fairness, impartiality, and an abiding understanding of the complexities of the conflict. We fully support this group’s right to express their point of view, even as we disagree with their characterization of our coverage.”
CPJ, a nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, hosts its annual awards dinner to “honor courageous journalists from around the world.”
“We will continue to support these journalists in their quest to speak truth to power, and no effort to distort CPJ’s track record as an independent, non-political organization will distract us from that mission,” the organization’s advocacy and communications officer Gypsy Guillén Kaiser told Hyperallergic.
In the protest, Writers Bloc pointed to CPJ’s own November 13 report on journalist casualties in Gaza that detailed the killing of 35 Palestinian journalists, one Lebanese journalist, and their countless family members. That number was updated to “at least 42 journalists or media workers” in the organization’s November 17 report, with nine reported injured, three missing, and 13 arrested.
To illustrate their point, protesters held posters featuring headshots and names of the victims with text that read, “Killed by the Israeli occupation in Gaza on [reported date of death] with the support of the United States and the complicity of the New York Times.” The flyers are reminiscent of the posters of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas that have been distributed around the world in the last month.
Writers Bloc’s statement highlighted the killing of Smart Media journalist Mohammad Jarghoun, who was shot mid-coverage on October 7 near Rafah, and Wafa reporter Mohamed Abu Hassira, who was killed alongside 42 family members in a strike on his home in Gaza on November 7. The organization also acknowledged the four Israeli journalists killed by Hamas at the Supernova music festival and Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
“[The Times‘s] leaders have demonstrated quite clearly in arguing against an immediate ceasefire that it wants Palestinian journalists dead,” Writers Bloc continued. “No one affiliated with the Times has any business partnering with CPJ, a committee whose stated aim is to protect journalists, not when the facts are what they are.”