Joel Simon launches ‘The New Censorship’ at BookCourt

Carroll Gardens press activist talks censorship in the digital age

The Brooklyn Paper
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He will not be silenced!

A Carroll Gardener and press freedom advocate is headed to Boerum Hill bookstore BookCourt on Nov. 11 to launch his new book and speak about the state of journalism across the globe and what can be done to better protect reporters. The discussion has never been more critical, he said.

“The starting point has to be to recognize that information has never been more important and the system that we currently have has never been more vulnerable,” said Joel Simon, author of “The New Censorship” and executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “Technology was supposed to make it possible to gather all the information you need from your computer or your iPhone and yet if you look at the statistics, it’s the worst it has ever been for journalists.”

The internet has greatly freed access to information and has given people a tool to hold their leaders accountable like never before, said Simon — but it is a double-edged sword.

“Previously you had to use the media to tell your story, and that was a journalist’s get-out-of-jail-free card,” said Simon, who will be joined at the event by New Yorker writer and fellow Brooklynite George Packer. “Now you can kill a reporter, make a point doing it, and disseminate that information yourself to your intended target.”

And it is not just the likes of jihadists who are benefiting from that shift in power, Simon said. The Obama administration, which promised unprecedented transparency, has taken to aggressive prosecuting of information leakers and also produces and disseminates its own content — allowing it to get information out while bypassing traditional media outlets, he argued.

But despite these setbacks, Simon said he does not support the good-old-days nostalgia that sees only a gloomy forecast for journalism.

“We live in an incredibly rich information moment when the ability to access huge amounts of information is unprecedented, so it’s not at all hopeless,” said Simon.

Simon has been at the Committee to Protect Journalists for 15 years, first overseeing the group’s work on journalism in the Americas and then rising to executive director. Born and raised in Boerum Hill, he said he intentionally tried to get as far from the borough as he could, including stints in San Francisco and Mexico City, but ultimately ended up back in his hometown.

“Somehow I got drawn back to Brooklyn and I couldn’t be happier,” said Simon.

Joel Simon and “The New Censorship” at BookCourt [163 Court Street between Dean and Pacific Streets in Boerum Hill, (718) 875–3677,]. Nov. 11 at 7 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John from Sunset Park says:
criticizing Obama in Brooklyn !!!

Never thought I'd see that.
Nov. 10, 2014, 1:25 am

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