February 19, 2015 - Updated on June 8, 2016

Reporters Without Borders launches #FreeAustinTice campaign, a first in US media history

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is launching today a pro bono campaign of unprecedented magnitude with the support of leading American media groups to raise awareness about the American journalist Austin Tice missing in Syria since 2012.

The American journalist Austin Tice disappeared in Syria in August 2012. His work was published by the McClatchy Newspapers, the Washington Post, Associated Press, AFP, as well as CBS, NPR, and BBC. His reporting earned the 2012 George Polk Award for War Reporting and the 2012 McClatchy Newspapers President’s Award. Austin Tice is alive and he is not held by ISIS, according to diverse credible sources.

Since September 2012, RSF has been assisting and advising his family. His parents asked RSF to help them raise awareness about their son’s situation. RSF partnered with the global advertising agency J.Walter Thompson to prepare a public awareness campaign in order to do everything possible to bring Austin Tice safely home. J.Walter Thompson developed pro-bono a campaign around the idea of being blindfolded when journalists are missing.

With the #FreeAustinTice campaign, RSF calls on Austin’s captors, whoever they are, to release him without delay and invites all American media and citizens to join Austin’s parents’ appeal. The #FreeAustinTice campaign is launched at a critical moment when the White House is reviewing its policy to secure the release of American hostages”, said Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Christophe Deloire.

Take part in the #FreeAustinTice campaign

Anyone can take part in the #FreeAustinTice campaign by signing the petition addressed to President Obama and by taking The Blindfold pledge, a symbol of Austin’s unanswered kidnapping. The blindfold symbolizes the fact that when journalists are silenced, we are all deprived of information, we are all blindfolded.

To participate, individuals can take a photo of themselves blindfolded and share the call to action on their appropriate social channels:

Facebook/Instagram: I take the Blindfold Pledge to raise awareness of the 2012 kidnapping of the American journalist Austin Tice. This is a plea to the US government to seek out answers and bring Austin home. I call on _____ to also take the pledge. #FreeAustinTice

Twitter: I wear the blindfold to #FreeAustinTice. I call on ____ to take the pledge

Twitter: The American journalist Austin Tice disappeared in Syria in 2012. Help us to bring him safely home. Sign the petition #FreeAustinTice.

First in US media history

Gannett & USA TODAY, GlobalPost, Hearst Newspaper Group, McClatchy Newspapers, The Atlantic Media Group, The Washington Post as well as the National Press Club and the Newseum are already official partners of the #FreeAustinTice campaign. Starting on February 19, 2015, #FreeAustinTice flash banners will be published pro-bono on more than 268 news websites for several weeks all across the United States.

Such a collective mobilization of the American media to raise awareness about a missing American journalist is unheard-of. This is a first in US media history. We cannot thank enough our media partners who offered millions of digital impressions for the #FreeAustinTice campaign banners and the New York Times who donated a full page ad for #FreeAustinTice,” said Reporters Without Borders USA Director Delphine Halgand.

"We continue to urge our government to do more to secure Austin's safe return, and we believe public participation in the campaign will amplify our voice and truly make a difference", said Debra and Marc Tice, the parents of Austin.

We’re heartened at the enormous support Austin is receiving,” said Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron in a statement. “We want to do everything we can to raise awareness of his horrifyingly long captivity and to facilitate his release.

After nearly 1,000 days in captivity, the time for Austin Tice's release is long past. We are hopeful that by harnessing the power of social media and the Internet we can convince those holding Austin to free him. His family and friends long for his return”, said James Asher, Washington Bureau Chief for the McClatchy Co.

"Support for press freedom is needed now more than ever", said USA TODAY President and Publisher Larry Kramer. "This is a critical time as the world has become more dangerous for reporters. In 2015 alone, 13 journalists have been killed and 164 imprisoned ; we are proud to support this campaign to raise awareness around this important cause."

Syria, world’s most dangerous country for journalists

Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Christophe Deloire highlights that “Syria is the world’s most dangerous country for journalists since the start of the uprising in March 2011, with hundreds of journalists and citizen-journalists arrested, kidnapped or killed by the various parties involved in the conflict. The local journalists have especially paid a high price in their fight for freedom of information.

Syria is ranked 177th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.

Reporters Without Borders has been working for decades all over the world with the families, employers and governments of journalists held hostage and missing to provide on-the-ground information and contacts, media strategy advice, platforms for the support commitees and any logistic assistance needed according to each specific case.

If your media is interested in joining the campaign and for media inquiry, please contact: Delphine Halgand - US Director -

To support the #FreeAustinTice cause and find out more information on how you can help, please visit


Reporters Without Borders is the largest press freedom organization in the world with almost 30 years of experience. Thanks to its unique global network of 150 local correspondents investigating in 130 countries, 11 national offices (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, USA) and a consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO, Reporters Without Borders is able to have a global impact by gathering and providing on the ground intelligence and assisting news providers all around the world.


J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, the world’s best-known marketing communications brand, has been making pioneering solutions that build enduring brands and business for more than 150 years. Headquartered in New York, J. Walter Thompson is a true global network with more than 200 offices in over 90 countries, employing nearly 10,000 marketing professionals. The agency consistently ranks among the top networks in the world and continues a dominant presence in the industry by staying on the leading edge—from hiring the industry's first female copywriter to developing award-winning branded content today. For more information, please visit and follow us @JWT_Worldwide.