Using a financial grant system, Reporters Without Borders provides direct aid to journalists, bloggers and free speech activists who have been threatened or imprisoned. The aid is used to ensure they have enough to live on, to help guarantee their safety or to pay for lawyers. These funds are also used to support independent news media that have been censored or weakened by lawsuits and to assist in their reconstruction.
Reporters Without Borders made more than 100 assistance grants in 2007, providing urgent medical, legal or material aid to journalists and news media in difficulty. Around a third of the assistance granted was used to pay medical or legal bills or to compensate for loss of salary. For example, the organisation helped a Burmese journalist who was forced to go into hiding in Rangoon after covering the September 2007 pro-democracy demonstrations.
Around 40 assistance grants were also made to refugee journalists who were forced to leave their country as a result of persecution.
Financial assistance was also provided to media in difficulty such as the Tamil daily Uthayan, of which four employees were murdered.