Persecution of writers and journalists abounds in our society, including the murder of 11 people at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by two Al Qaeda terrorists for their cartoons of Muhammad; the jailing of Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran for his involvement with The Daily Show; and the torture of Raif Badawi, the founder of the internet discussion group Free Saudi Network, who has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison.
Several New Yorkers have collaborated to raise awareness about these and other examples of how writers, journalists and cartoonists suffer at the hands of extremists and also democratic governments with surveillance programs, including the United States.
“Creativity Is Risky: Free Speech in a Charlie Hebdo World” is a multimedia e-magazine featuring original reporting, personal essays, an interactive map on press freedoms, videos and music. It tells a story both sad and hopeful about the state of free speech around the world.
“Creativity Is Risky is designed to educate and engage people around the world on issues related to free speech—from violent threats to the more subtle, everyday challenges,” says Manhattan resident and publisher Sally O’Dowd.
O’Dowd’s Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn teammates include:
- Michelle Zapata, a producer and art director for U.S. Spanish-language consumer magazines
- Communications executives Jon Porcasi, e-magazine producer and graphic designer; and Marian Berelowitz, who provided editorial guidance and served as copy editor
- Emmanuel Letouzé (Manu), a French cartoonist and development economist, who analyzes Charlie Hebdo’s mission
- Katy Glenn Bass, deputy director of free expression programs at literary human rights organization PEN American Center, who provided insight on the adverse impact of government surveillance programs on writers
- Singer-songwriter Chaz Langley, whose songs relate to the magazine’s themes of free expression and resilience of writers who stand up to persecution.
“Our team invites readers to engage in the conversation on this essential human right by using the hashtags #creativityisrisky and #freespeech,” O’Dowd says. “Our team is passionate about this issue, and we want to hear from readers. Where do you see free speech being celebrated or curtailed? Help us create a #freespeech movement.”