Joel Simon

  1. Director, Journalism Protection Initiative

Joel Simon has worked tirelessly as a champion of press freedom around the world.

For 15 years between 2006 and 2021, he served as the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). He traveled the world defending the rights of journalists, effectively saving lives and getting innumerable people out of harm’s way.

Simon helped establish CPJ’s Emergencies Department, which provides safety information and direct support for journalists under threat, including placement for at-risk journalists at leading journalism schools, the Newmark J-School among them. For the last year, Simon has been a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University and a senior visiting fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute, also at Columbia.

Simon is the author of four books, including most recently The Infodemic: How Censorship and Lies Made the World Sicker and Less Free, co-authored with Robert Mahoney. He writes on press freedom issues for The New Yorker and produces a regular column for Columbia Journalism Review.

A Brooklyn native and fluent Spanish speaker, Simon started his career in the 1990s as a journalist covering the Guatemalan conflict. He also reported from El Salvador, Cuba, and for a full decade, Mexico, where he covered the Zapatista uprising and the assassination of the presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio. His first book, from 1998, Endangered Mexico: An Environment on the Edge, was named one of the 100 best books of the year by the LA Times.