ONA statement on Charlie Hebdo: Why 'Je Suis Charlie'

By on January 8, 2015

Yesterday’s murders at the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris were not just an attack on journalism, they were yet another declaration of open warfare on free speech.

(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Journalists who take on extremism and report on the abuses of power are a flash point for violence, and the past year has been an extraordinarily brutal reminder.

The list of journalists’ deaths across the globe grew every day, including the murders of freelance reporter Aung Kyaw Naing, “Par Gyi,” in Burma; 21-year-old intern Facely Camara in Womé, Guinea; blogger Marcos de Barros Leopoldo Guerra in Ubatuba, Brazil; reporter Vyacheslav Veremiy, 32, in Kiev, Ukraine and freelance photographer James Foley in Syria.

The 2014 death toll ended at 61, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and now we add fresh numbers seven days into this new year. Journalists, whether wielding words, photos, art or data, essentially have become enemy combatants.

Last night, the citizens in the crowds who were ”not afraid” in Paris, London, and cities throughout Europe and the United States were not journalists. They just knew that their right to speak freely is inherent to every human being, and they know what’s at stake when that’s threatened. The only way to keep free speech alive is to stand up for it — and use it.

The message they sent, we carry: There’s no backing down. There’s only moving forward, doing our jobs, making your voices heard.

ONA Board of Directors and Staff

Jane McDonnell

As executive director, Jane oversees and manages the day-to-day operations of the world’s largest membership organization of digital journalists, working closely with the Board of Directors. Her purview includes membership, partnerships, global community outreach, budgeting and revenue generation, fundraising and development, the Online Journalism Awards, and providing vision for ONA’s state-of-the-art annual conference.