October 26, 2018 - Updated on October 30, 2018

RSF opens San Francisco office with focus on journalism and technology

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) officially opened its San Francisco office on Tuesday, October 23 which will focus primarily on issues at the intersection of journalism and technology, and the impact of big tech on freedom of the press and information.

From its new strategic location, RSF will be able to develop its presence in the dynamic tech ecosystem of the San Francisco Bay Area and across the US West Coast.  



In recent years, the promising opportunities brought about by the digital transformation of journalism and the advent of social media have been profoundly challenged. The new realities of social media platforms have been marked by the spread of wide scale misinformation campaigns, organized cyber harassment and intimidation tactics, doxxing, censorship, private data use, fake activism, false news and growing concerns over emerging deep fake technology. This situation poses a threat to press freedom, journalism, and ultimately, the health of democracies worldwide.



Around the world, journalism and journalists are under attack. They are threatened, they are harassed, they are imprisoned, and they are killed. It’s an unprecedented onslaught. Technology has exacerbated this situation. We believe it’s important for us to be in San Francisco to help make an impact on upstream technologies to better protect journalists and defend online press freedoms” said Christophe Deloire.



We want to build a productive network of people like yourselves,” said Sabine Dolan, the new Director of the San Francisco office, at the launch event. ”whether you’re journalists, or lawyers, or you work in tech, academia, institutions, nonprofits or you’re simply interested in these concerning issues that journalism is facing today. More than 60 journalists were killed so far this year. We are worried by this deteriorating situation and we want to develop our presence here to help address it thoroughly, and at different levels, and that includes technology.



Thanks to a network of correspondents in 130 countries and 13 offices worldwide, RSF is well positioned to monitor the state of journalism and have a broad impact on global issues impacting freedom of information. As one of the only international press freedom organizations of its kind on the West Coast, RSF looks forward to using this unique resource for positive impact on the digital and tech space in the Bay Area and beyond.



RSF launch reception


The event took place at Bloomberg News and was hosted by Marty Schenker, Chief Content Officer for Bloomberg and board member of RSF North America. The launch was attended by RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire, RSF North America Chairman Peter Price and RSF North America Director Margaux Ewen, and the new Director of San Francisco’s office Sabine Dolan. Prior to RSF, Dolan worked with the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF specializing in strategic communications, global partnerships, children’s rights and humanitarian emergencies. Prior to that, she was a broadcast news journalist and show producer with CNN, BBC World Service, Reuters, AP and CNBC.


A wide spectrum of technologists and leaders from the journalism, philanthropy, and advocacy sectors were also present. As part of the reception, a panel discussed new technologies and the deteriorating climate for reporters around the world; the unprecedented cyber harassment of journalists; the manipulation of technology by authoritarian governments; the problematics of content moderation; and social fragmentation issues exacerbated by social media platforms and cable news.



The panel featured David Greene, Civil Liberties Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)  and a law professor in San Francisco, Trinh Nguyen, the Internet Freedom Program Manager for Viet Tan, a pro-democracy group in Vietnam, and Tom Giles, the Executive Editor for Technology at Bloomberg. It was moderated by Sabine Dolan.



RSF’s world press freedom map, which provides a visual presentation of the world press freedom index, was projected on a screen.


During the event, it was announced that Norman Pearlstine, Executive Editor of the LA Times and a high-profile veteran journalist, will chair the upcoming West Coast Advisory Board of Reporters Without Borders USA. Additional co-chairs from the journalism and technology sectors will be announced in the coming weeks.