The CPFP relies on public reports, tips and the input of a broad coalition of organizations concerned with media rights and the public’s right to know to inform our database. For more information about how to share possible press freedom violations, visit our incident submissions page.

What the CPFP tracks


The CPFP records press freedom incidents since Jan. 1, 2021. We track online threats for incidents reported starting Jan. 1, 2022. The site quantitatively tracks press freedom violations across 12 categories:

    • Arrests and criminal charges  – Incidents in which media workers are arrested and taken into custody and/or have criminal charges laid against them while on the job or as related to their work.


    • Equipment search or seizure – Incidents in which a media worker’s equipment is either searched or seized.


    • Equipment damage – Incidents in which a media worker’s equipment is damaged by an assailant in the course of their work, or any incident in which their personal property is damaged in a targeted attack.


    • Subpoena/legal order – Incidents where media workers are compelled to produce source materials to a government agency or are required — by subpoena or legal order — to testify in court.


    • Chilling statement – Incidents in which the impact created by a statement may be perceived to or have the potential to thwart, derail or prevent a media worker or organization from continuing to pursue their work. Most frequently, tracked threats will have been made by politicians or public figures and will include known instances of libel chill and SLAPP suits.


    • Denial of access – Incidents where media workers are denied access to events that are typically open to the press, such as public meetings, demonstrations, government media availability or court proceedings and where denial of access limits coverage of events in the public interest. These could be targeted at individuals or be shifts in policy that impact journalists’ collective right of access. Denial of access also includes situations where a local, provincial or federal government body prevents access to a contested site where a protest or public activity is underway, or if certain media workers are excluded on the basis of their affiliation to a media organization, or lack thereof, or cases where insufficient reasoning is provided for denial of access.
    • Leak case –  Incidents in which a government agency/public official launches an inquiry or investigation into a source who supplied a media worker with information and/or the journalist or organization that received it.


    • Border stop – Incidents in which media workers are refused entry to a country or  are stopped at the border by authorities and experience delays, interrogations, extended questioning or have their devices searched. The CPFP counts incidents for Canada-based media workers attempting to travel internationally or international media workers attempting to enter Canada. For incidents occurring internationally, we will track those involving media workers from Canada and those working for Canadian media organizations.


    • Physical attack – Incidents of physical attacks — including assault and battery — against media workers while in the line of work or in a targeted incident. This category may include instances of targeted property damage (such as vandalism and arson).


    • Intimidation, threats and verbal harassment – Incidents in which media workers are subjected to intimidation, threats and verbal harassment — in the field or as a result of their work — from members of the public. These incidents may include racial and gender-based harassment, attempts to intimidate a media worker while covering a protest, demonstration, or public meeting; or targeted threats against a journalist’s safety or life. This category does not include online abuse and threats.


    • Online threats – Incidents in which communications sent in a digital format contain one or both of the expression of an intention to commit or wish of physical harm against the recipient, their close connections such as family members, another media worker or media organizations at large; and hate speech. Read more about our online threat tracking methodology here.


    • Other –  Incidents that do not fit within one of the defined categories but where there is a demonstrable infringement on media rights

There are a variety of conditions that bear on press freedom in Canada: from obstructive and sometimes illegal access to information delays to regional issues with publication bans, systemic discrimination in the newsroom and its effects on media rights and the public record, the erosion of local news and more. Issues such as these are not categorized and tracked by the CPFP given the practical challenges in defining thresholds that would be consistent with the methodology across the database. These areas will be covered by the CPFP across analysis, reports and tools to provide ongoing snapshots of press freedoms in Canada.

Who experiences press freedom violations?


The CPFP reports on and tracks incidents in which an individual’s right to access, gather and report information is violated when attempting an act of journalism in good faith; or when they are otherwise targeted for having done so.

There are a variety of individuals who participate in the process of newsgathering and are impacted by press freedom conditions but may not consider themselves journalists. When describing people who may experience press freedom violations collectively or broadly, the CPFP will refer to that group as media workers.

These professionals may include but not be limited to those who identify as reporters, videographers, photojournalists and content creators. The CPFP tracks incidents of press freedom violations that affect media workers in Canada, those based in Canada but working internationally or those based internationally working for a Canadian media organization.