02:47 AM

Committee To Protect Journalists And Theil Foundation Celebrates Muckraking Journalists

I popped into Harry Denton's Starlight room on top of the Sir Francis Drake for an event organized by the Committee to Protect Journalists and The Thiel Foundation honoring leading African journalists risking their lives for free speech.

These included:

- Erik Charas, engineer, social entrepreneur, and founder of @Verdade, the largest-circulation newspaper in Mozambique.

- Rafael Marques de Morais (above, right), aware-winning journalist, human rights activist and founder of the anti-corruption watchdog website, MakaAngola.

Jonathan Cain, president of The Thiel Foundation (above), spoke about the organization's libertarian values and its commitment to free speech.

The CPJ is more than 30 years old. Some sobering statistics:

- 943 journalists have been killed since 943.
- 48 journalists have been killed this year (up to October 2012).
- 582 journalists "murdered with impunity since 1992.
- There are 473 journalists forced into exile worldwide.

I also met with Michelle Zatlyn co-founder of CloudFlare, which offers free services to journalists to help them overcome attacks on their web sites.

Anyone attempting a denial of service attack against a Cloudflare protected site will not succeed because of its global infrastructure. "We're just too big. An attack is like punching a sumo wrestler it gets absorbed and nothing happens."

I ran into Dan Gillmor, a former popular columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, and one of the first "blogger journalists." I mentioned that journalists need some protection in the US because it's great defending and supporting muckrakers in other countries but we are losing muckrakers here.

He said he wasn't as worried about the cause of journalism in the US as I am, and that the business model will eventually work itself out. I said that the transition will be very painful and that special interest groups will take advantage of the disruption and that won't be good for democracy.

We make decisions based on the quality of our media, as software engineers say, "garbage in, garbage out." If you start with garbage media we will get garbage decisions.

Here are some more photos from the event: