Posts Tagged ‘Harassment’

Status of press freedom and top press predators

Last week was a busy one for identifying press freedom issues. Freedom House came out with its Map of Press Freedom and Reporters Without Borders released a list of top predators against free media.

Status of world press freedom

Freedom House released its annual Press Freedom survey this week as part of World Press Freedom Day.

And the news is not good. By the Freedom House figures, about 85 percent of the people in the world live in countries where the media are either “Partly Free” or “Not Free” from government interference.

Click here to see the rest of the story.

The top predators against free media

Reporters Without Borders has a great page that identifies the top predators in the world against free and independent media.

Thirty-eight heads of state and warlords sow terror among journalists

The list is the usual group of anti-freedom government types: Hu Jintao, Raul Castro and Kim Jong-il.

There are also the Arab country leaders who are fighting against the Arab Spring uprisings such as Muammar Gaddafi and King Hamad Ben Aissa Al Khalifa in Bahrain.

Iran is so dedicated to controlling the press that it has two identified predators: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamenei.

Click here for rest of story.

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NewsHour/Frontline look at the Chinese censorship machine

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World

These reports on PBS NewsHour are some of the best stories I have seen about how the Chinese censorship machine work.

Chinese Artist, Activist Ai Weiwei Arrested

China’s Tolerance for Dissent Tested Amid Arab World Uprisings

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Beijing police out in force/FCCC criticizes attack on journalists

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said today it is “appalled by the attack on one of our members by men who appeared to be plain clothes security officers in Beijing.”

Other journalists who went to the same part of Beijing to do their jobs had problems with the police, including being manhandled, pushed, detained and delayed.

Full Statement.

The actions against the journalists came as they tried to cover planned demonstrations organized under the “Jasmine Revolution” banner. The government was so worried about the demonstrations that the police put on a major show of force.

In addition to the heavy police presence, street cleaning vehicles and men with brooms swept back and forth along the designated streets in Beijing and Shanghai, preventing pedestrians from slowing down. A construction site appeared on Wangfujing earlier this week, blocking off a stretch outside the hamburger bar.

Associated Press reported that Shanghai police used whistles to disperse a crowd of around 200, although it was unclear if the people were anything more than onlookers. It said officers detained at least four Chinese citizens in the city and two others in Beijing. It was not clear, however, if those detained had tried to protest.

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Journalists in Beijing district face unlisted barrier

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World

The calls for weekly “Jasmine Revolutions” in China have the security forces on edge. And it makes life difficult for journalists trying to cover the events.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China issued a statement giving the journalists some tips.

Many correspondents in Beijing have gotten calls with warnings about reporting in the vicinity of Wangfujing this weekend, ranging from friendly reminders about reporting regulations to specific warnings. The FCCC strongly urges everyone to carry all necessary press credentials and passports, to avoid being provoked into confrontations, and to avoid in any way endangering Chinese assistants.

And then it gets interesting:

Some correspondents have been told to register at a Wangfujing district office for permission to report there. This office does not appear to have a listed number and the PSB  [Public Security Bureau] was unable to provide one to correspondents who asked.

The public office where  reporters need to register to report in the area has an unlisted number.

The FCCC is concerned about and monitoring arbitrary interpretation of the reporting regulations. Please inform us if you are blocked from reporting in public space. China’s reporting regulations, which took effect in Oct. 2008, state: “To interview organizations or individuals in China, foreign journalists need only to obtain their prior consent.”

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CPJ Report: Libya: foreign reporters ‘outlaws’; Mideast attacks continue

The latest on the situation on attacks against journalists in Libya and the Middle East from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

New York, February 23, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the ongoing attack on journalists and bloggers in the Middle East. Today the Libyan deputy foreign minister warned foreign journalists crossing the eastern border that they will be treated as “outlaws,” according to news reports. In Iraq, gunmen raided the office of a local press freedom group; in Egypt, pro-government supporters attacked a group of local journalists; and in Syria, a young blogger was arrested on Sunday, according to news reports.

Some foreign journalists in Libya have been able to enter the country through the eastern border, according to news reports, but today, Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Khaim warned those who entered Libya illegally that they will be arrested if they do not give themselves in to authorities, according to Agence France-Presse. “There are journalists who entered illegally and we consider them as if they are collaborating with Al-Qaeda and as outlaws and we are not responsible for their security,” Khaim said. Qaddafi’s government lost control over the eastern border on Tuesday, according to news reports.

For rest of report, click here.

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China nervous over microblogging

Posted first at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

To no one’s surprise, the Chinese leadership sees microblogging as a tool to destroy China. And events in Egypt and Libya are just more “evidence” of that belief.

China Digital Times has a series of articles about how Beijing is reacting to the use of microblogging sites such as Twitter in the uprisings in Egypt and Libya. They are well worth a read.

Microblogging in China and Egypt: Two Views

From China Media Project director Ying Chan:

Despite all attempts by the leadership to stifle the discussion and “guide” public opinion, however, popular voices demanding the truth and pushing for greater openness have only increased. On the virtual public square of the Internet, Chinese explore sensitive issues through the constant invention and re-invention of memes, so that keyword blocking becomes largely irrelevant; they use proxy servers to get around censorship and post what they wish.

The gap between the people and the government is deepening as well, a divide compounding the gaps between rich and poor, and between the city and countryside.

From People’s Daily columnist Li Hongmei:

Just give another thought to the case of Egypt, the Western media again never hesitate to cash in on the idea that the Egyptian uprising was Internet Revolution, and it was Twitter and Face book that helped spur on international coverage of the events unfolding, which ultimately led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. However, the West pays no heed to the true feeling of the ordinary Egyptians who actually have no access to computers, and pushed to streets by the few elites with some idea of reform enlightened by the Western-style democracy, and motivated to follow suit by the slogans and symbols which sound all alien to their knowledge.

Kinda sounds as if the official Chinese line is that democracy is alien to Arabs and therefore they (the Arabs) shouldn’t have it.

In another article (China Official Warns Of Domestic Unrest And “Hostile” West) the party leadership pulls out all the stops:

Chen Jiping, deputy secretary general of the Communist Party’s Political and Legal Affairs Committee:

“The schemes of some hostile Western forces attempting to Western and split us are intensifying, and they are waving the banner of defending rights to meddle in domestic conflicts and maliciously create all kinds of incidents.”

And, of course, those “schemes” are all being carried out by the use of unfettered Tweets.

There are a whole series of updates and commentaries at the CDN site about China’s reaction to blogs and microblogs:

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Nicaraguan journalist threatened over elections commission investigation

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

Seems El Nuevo Diario is rubbing some people the wrong way.

Some one leveled a death threat against reporter and editor Luis Galeano first by phone and then by hand-delivered package.

And the whole issue: Galeano was looking into irregularities in the Nicaraguan Central Elections Commission.

Journalist receives death threats

For non-Spanish speakers (or those like me working to get my Spanish back) Google Translate gives a rough translation of the situation but enough to understand it.

Irregularities at the elections commission take on a more heated nature this year. The country is heading for elections in November and there are already claims from the opposition that some hanky-panky is  going on. Enough that just as the year started — 11 months before the election — opposition parties were calling for international observers.

Liberals call for international observation of elections in Nicaragua

President Daniel Ortega — yes, that Ortega of 1980s fame — was clearly upset with such calls.

“We are tired of interventions,” he told local media. “If you want to come (foreign observers) to join us, join us, but we want drivers of our elections.”

He added that “the best observers” are the representatives of the political forces at the polling stations.

Unfortunately, the intentions of Ortega and his party are quite clear: Never give up the power again. (And for free journalism, this is not a good thing.)

Ortega got his rubber-stamp courts to let him run for re-election even though it is against the constitution.

And perhaps more telling are the comments of Ortega’s pal Tomas Borge, the last living founder of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). He said last year that giving up power, when they were voted out of office in 1990, was a mistake that should never be repeated.

And that is why a story about some strange goings on in the election commission is so important and so dangerous to the ruling elite.

P.S. A special thanks to @bloggingsbyboz for his Tweet on this.

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Female war correspondents: Beyond Logan

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

Many thanks to Kim Barker of the Chicago Tribune for her piece in ProPublica and the New York Times last week on female war correspondents.

Female Foreign Correspondents’ Code of Silence, Finally Broken

Anyone who has lived or worked in an uber-male dominated society can imagine the harassment and hassles these women face. I join with Barker in praising Logan for speaking out.

Unfortunately, the actions of those who molested Logan and other female correspondents seem to have opened up two lines of commentary that is both uncivil and stupid.

While most comments that have flooded the websites of news organizations have been supportive of Lara Logan, some have been down right racist and misogynistic

NPR Ombudsman Alicia C. Shepard talked about how NPR had to take down some comments from its website and has to come up with a new way to monitor the comments because of the uncivil actions of a few.

NPR Struggling with Crude Behavior by Some Users of Its Web Site

And don’t think for a minute the women who volunteer to go into war zones don’t know what they are getting into. So there is none of this “being politically correct” crap.

Male reporters have faced beatings and assaults while covering events in Egypt and Bahrain. But no one is saying that maybe the news organization should not send them to cover the story.

As Barker points out, sometimes the female correspondents come back with stories that their male counterparts either don’t think about or can’t get.

Without female correspondents in war zones, the experiences of women there may be only a rumor.

Look at the articles about women who set themselves on fire in Afghanistan to protest their arranged marriages, or about girls being maimed by fundamentalists, about child marriage in India, about rape in Congo and Haiti. Female journalists often tell those stories in the most compelling ways, because abused women are sometimes more comfortable talking to them. And those stories are at least as important as accounts of battles.

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Journalists protest firing in Brazil

Bloggers and journalists in the northeast Brazilian city of Salvador protested against first the firing that was later changed to a suspension of Aguirre Peixot from A Tarde.

Seems Peixot wrote some stories about the environmental damage new development in the city was causing. The protesters claim pressure from the real estate developers led to the suspension.

The paper denies the connection. But soon after the articles appeared the developers pulled their ads from the paper. Soon after the suspension, the ads re-appeared.

The battle is nothing new to Brazil or the United States. (Think about the last time a U.S. newspaper ran a story highly critical of car dealers.)

Here is a Google Translate version of the story (so expect the English to be really rough).

Journalists in Brazil, like their American counterparts, are fiercely independent and often complain about management interference in their pursuit of stories.

In just a little more than 25 years, journalists in Brazil have thrown off the censoring shackles of the military dictatorship and developed a strong and independent form of journalism.

It would be great if more Brazilian and American journalists could get together. We really have a lot in common — besides that deep love of free and independent journalism.

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New Hungarian media law: A disaster for press freedom.

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

The fall of communism in Europe opened a door to democracy and all the rights that come with it — freedom of press, speech, expression etc.

And the right to elect officials who might do all those other rights in. Such as the good people of Hungary.

The electorate reacted to eight years of bad governance and arrogance by the Socialist party by voted in a center-right candidate who railed against the elites and main stream media.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban proposed and his parliament enacted Dec. 21 a new media law with language that is deliberately vague but pleasant-sounding to the people of the country who dislike elites. The media law that could just have easily been written by the crew that used to run the country 25 years ago. (For the historically challenged, that would be the Communist Party.)

To be sure there was more to the Orban victory in April 2010. But the rhetoric focused on how the government was run by elites who had no respect for the common people.

The “populist” theme was added to the poor showing of the Hungarian economy. Then to tap the last nail into the Socialist’s party chances, a tape emerged of the then prime minister telling colleagues he lied to the voters and that hundreds of tricks kept the country from falling apart.

In April the Socialists were out and Orban was in.

Orban stepped right in to fix the problems of the country. In fact, he pledged to get Hungary’s economy back on track after the country required a bailout from the EU.

The only problem is that he saw any organization or group that opposed him to be part of the problem. And this problem had to be addressed before he could deal with the other issues facing the country. (Sound like a certain Venezuelan leader we all know?)

Anne Applebaum at SLATE reports that since taking office less than a year ago, Orban appointed a council to rewrite the constitution, cut funding for the national audit office and stripped the supreme court of its powers.

But it is the media law that is now getting attention. (After all, it was passed by the Orban-dominated parliament just this past week.)

Running to 180 pages, the law is pretty simple and vague — as is usually the case with people who want to do in freedom of press: “Do what we say or we will break you.”

Under the law:

  • The government sets us a state-run media council — composed entirely of ruling party appointees.
  • The media council is tasked with protecting “human dignity.”
  • The media council can issue fines against news organizations up to US$1 million is the news reports are not balanced. (No definition on what “balanced” means.)
  • The government has also ordered a limit on crime-related news. Such news cannot take up more than 20 percent of airtime. (And as usual with folks who try to control the media, the law does not define “crime” or mention if government corruption is included under the “crime” category.)

The law also seems to be reaching to give the government the power to censor the Internet. Here the government seems to be relying on the “human dignity” aspect of the law. Can you say “Great Firewall of Hungary”? (Maybe they can cut a deal with China and Iran to get the technology and cheap staff to monitor the Internet.)

To be sure, not everyone is sitting still for this.

Right from the start, journalists in Hungary and Europe stepped up almost as soon as the legislation was introduced: Protests at new media law in Hungary.

And again when the law was passed: Adam Michnik Editorial Criticising Media Legislation in Hungary.

Within days of the law’s passage, the chilling effect was seen in a radio interview.

Journalist Sandor Jaszberenyi was on Radio Kossuth’s morning show Dec. 28. Before taking a question about plans to open the abandoned Chernobyl reactor site to tourists, the journalist asked for a minute’s silence in protest at the media law.

The show’s host cut short the interview. Listeners then heard the radio station’s theme tune for a while. When the show restarted it was without Jaszbberenyi.

Jaszberenyi said the incident was an example of how self- censorship was already in place in Hungary.

His was not the first act of defiance on the air against the law by working journalists. The day the law was passed, two Radio Kossuth presenters interrupting their program for a minute’s silence.

They were suspended indefinitely by the station.

This legislation also came at a very embarrassing time for the European Union. Hungary is taking over the rotating presidency of the EU. The EU has raised a number of issues with Hungary over the law.

Hungarian parliamentarians say the door is not locked on making changes.

A leading member of the ruling party in parliament told the BBC that if the law was applied “in a wrong way, or there are problems” parliament would change it.

But then he fell back on the old chestnut of all those who want to stop a free press from looking into how things are done in government. He said they want to “improve” journalism in Hungary and “not to wage a war” against it.

For my money, whenever a government tries to dictate how journalism should be done, it is waging war on it.

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