MIAMI — In the wake of Cuba's latest crackdown on free expression, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded a grant to a nonprofit, nonpartisan Cuban-American organization that promotes independent journalism on the island.
The two-year grant of $188,000 to CubaNet News aims to improve the flow of news into and out of the communist country. Cuban correspondents file stories daily for the group's popular web site, CubaNet.org, and the articles will be published and sent back to Cuba in a bimonthly magazine.
In addition, the grant will fund a special report in both Spanish and English detailing the widely criticized arrests of 75 political dissidents and journalists this year by Fidel Castro's government. The report will be published as a book, distributed to the 200 independent libraries on the island and put into general circulation. More books will contain the collected works of CubaNet's journalists now in prison.
“Independent journalists who put their lives at risk deserve respect and support,” said Denise Tom, Journalism Initiatives Program Officer. “This grant will help them earn both.”
CubaNet, based in Coral Gables, Fla., was founded in 1994 to promote a free press on the island. The organization publishes articles about the island nation's closed society by independent Cuban journalists. Last year, CubaNet had 40 journalists contributing to its newsletters and web site. Now the organization only has 28 journalists submitting reports. Castro's government has jailed 12 CubaNet correspondents; nine were arrested this past spring.
“It's important that the work of these journalists is well represented,” said CubaNet president Rosa Berre, a Cuban journalist who came to the United States in the 1980 Mariel Boatlift. “Their work will have a strong presence and have a lasting impact because the independent press is the only true press we have [in Cuba].”
The independent Cuban press at one time featured about 100 journalists. Now, there are 30 independent journalists on the island, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Those who have not fled or been jailed continue to report on life in Cuba, though the government has labeled them “information terrorists.”
Knight Foundation supports press freedom internationally through several key, globally oriented groups: the International Center for Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the World Press Freedom Committee. More recently, the foundation has launched regional initiatives, in Latin America with the Inter American Press Association and the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, and in the Middle East with World Link TV and Internews.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.