Posts tagged with ‘press freedom’

If we are all journalists now, what happens to the privileges journalists used to claim? →

Via Index on Censorship:

We are used to telling ourselves by now that journalism is a manifestation of a human right — that of free expression. Smartphones, cheap recording equipment, and free access to social media and blogging platforms have revolutionised journalism; the means of production have fallen into the hands of the many.

This is a good thing. The more information we have on events, surely the better. But one question does arise: if we are all journalists now, what happens to the privileges journalists used to claim?

Official press identification in the UK states that the holder is recognised by police as a “bona fide newsgatherer”. As statements of status go, it seems a paltry thing. But it does imply that some exception must be made for the bearer. The recognised journalist, it is suggested, should be free to roam a scene unmolested. One can ask questions and reasonably expect an answer. One can wield a video or audio device and not have it confiscated. One can talk to whoever one wants, without fear of recrimination.

That, at least, is the theory. But in Britain, the US and elsewhere, the practice has been changing. Whether during periods of unrest or after, police have shown a disregard for the integrity of journalists’ work. The actions of police in Ferguson have merely been part of a pattern.

FJP: As of August 22, 17 reporters had been arrested in Ferguson. 

Report: US Surveillance Harming Journalism, Law and Society
Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union released a report this week outlining the effect the US surveillance state is having on journalism, law and society. In particular, the two groups interviewed “50 journalists covering intelligence, national security, and law enforcement for outlets including the New York Times, the Associated Press, ABC, and NPR.”
Via Human Rights Watch:

[The report] documents how national security journalists and lawyers are adopting elaborate steps or otherwise modifying their practices to keep communications, sources, and other confidential information secure in light of revelations of unprecedented US government surveillance of electronic communications and transactions. The report finds that government surveillance and secrecy are undermining press freedom, the public’s right to information, and the right to counsel, all human rights essential to a healthy democracy…
…Surveillance has magnified existing concerns among journalists and their sources over the administration’s crackdown on leaks. The crackdown includes new restrictions on contact between intelligence officials and the media, an increase in leak prosecutions, and the Insider Threat Program, which requires federal officials to report one another for “suspicious” behavior that might betray an intention to leak information.
Journalists interviewed for the report said that surveillance intimidates sources, making them more hesitant to discuss even unclassified issues of public concern. The sources fear they could lose their security clearances, be fired, or – in the worst case – come under criminal investigation.
"People are increasingly scared to talk about anything," observed one Pulitzer Prize winner, including unclassified matters that are of legitimate public concern.

The report, With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy, can be downloaded here (PDF). The online Executive Summary is here.
Meantime, via The New York Times: “An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has found that its officers improperly penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program.”
Image: Anonymous quote from a journalist interviewed for the report. Via Human Rights Watch.

Report: US Surveillance Harming Journalism, Law and Society

Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union released a report this week outlining the effect the US surveillance state is having on journalism, law and society. In particular, the two groups interviewed “50 journalists covering intelligence, national security, and law enforcement for outlets including the New York Times, the Associated Press, ABC, and NPR.”

Via Human Rights Watch:

[The report] documents how national security journalists and lawyers are adopting elaborate steps or otherwise modifying their practices to keep communications, sources, and other confidential information secure in light of revelations of unprecedented US government surveillance of electronic communications and transactions. The report finds that government surveillance and secrecy are undermining press freedom, the public’s right to information, and the right to counsel, all human rights essential to a healthy democracy…

…Surveillance has magnified existing concerns among journalists and their sources over the administration’s crackdown on leaks. The crackdown includes new restrictions on contact between intelligence officials and the media, an increase in leak prosecutions, and the Insider Threat Program, which requires federal officials to report one another for “suspicious” behavior that might betray an intention to leak information.

Journalists interviewed for the report said that surveillance intimidates sources, making them more hesitant to discuss even unclassified issues of public concern. The sources fear they could lose their security clearances, be fired, or – in the worst case – come under criminal investigation.

"People are increasingly scared to talk about anything," observed one Pulitzer Prize winner, including unclassified matters that are of legitimate public concern.

The report, With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy, can be downloaded here (PDF). The online Executive Summary is here.

Meantime, via The New York Times: “An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has found that its officers improperly penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program.”

Image: Anonymous quote from a journalist interviewed for the report. Via Human Rights Watch.

I don’t even know if anyone is reading this anymore.

Russia Blocks Four Opposition Media Portals — (via globalvoices)

Background, via EFF:

Russia’s government has escalated its use of its Internet censorship law to target news sites, bloggers, and politicians under the slimmest excuse of preventing unauthorized protests and enforcing house arrest regulations. Today, the country’s ISPs have received orders to block a list of major news sites and system administrators have been instructed to take the servers providing the content offline.

The banned sites include the online newspaper Grani, Garry Kasparov’s opposition information site kasparov.ru, the livejournal of popular anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, and even the web pages of Ekho Moskvy, a radio station which is majority owned by the state-run Gazprom, and whose independent editor was ousted last month and replaced with a more government-friendly director.

The list of newly prohibited sites was published earlier today by Russia’s Prosecutor General, which announced that the news sites had been “entered into the single register of banned information” after “calls for participation in unauthorized rallies.” Navalny’s livejournal was apparently added to the register in response to the conditions of his current house arrest, which include a personal prohibition on accessing the Internet.

(via globalvoices)

The Olympics Are Coming
Welcome to Russia.
Committee to Protect Journalists: Media suffer winter chill in coverage of Sochi OlympicsIn the run-up to the Sochi Winter Games, official repression and self-censorship have restricted news coverage of sensitive issues related to the Olympics, such as the exploitation of migrant workers, environmental destruction, and forced evictions.
Index on Censorship: A complete guide to who controls the Russian news mediaIn early 2000s various state agencies took financial or managerial control over 70 percent of electronic media outlets, 80 percent of the regional press, and 20 percent of the national press. As a result, Russian media continued to be used as tools of political control but now these “tools” were no longer distributed among competing political parties and businesses, but remained concentrated in the hands of a closed political circle that swore loyalty to President Putin.
Radio Free Europe: Russian Media Tests Boundaries Of State CensorshipIt’s not easy being a journalist in Russia, where attacks against reporters have made it one of the most dangerous places to work, and the government has sidelined much of the free press. Still, some media outlets remain highly critical of the authorities. Their journalists say their main difficulty isn’t so much that they’re not able to report about the country’s problems, it’s that no one’s listening.
Freedom House: 2013 Russia Country ReportAlthough the constitution provides for freedom of speech, vague laws on extremism grant the authorities great discretion to crack down on any speech, organization, or activity that lacks official support. The government controls, directly or through state-owned companies and friendly business magnates, all of the national television networks and many radio and print outlets, as well as most of the media advertising market. Only a small and shrinking number of radio stations and publications with limited reach offer a wide range of viewpoints. In December 2013, Putin abolished the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, which had developed a reputation for objective reporting, and folded it into a new entity called Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), which would be run by pro-Kremlin television commentator Dmitriy Kiselyov and Margarita Simonyan, the head of RT, the Kremlin’s propagandistic international television network. The Kremlin has also increased pressure on formerly outspoken outlets, such as the business newspaper Kommersant, which is now considered to be a progovernment publication.
Image: Cover, The Economist. The Triumph of Vladimir Putin.

The Olympics Are Coming

Welcome to Russia.

Committee to Protect Journalists: Media suffer winter chill in coverage of Sochi Olympics
In the run-up to the Sochi Winter Games, official repression and self-censorship have restricted news coverage of sensitive issues related to the Olympics, such as the exploitation of migrant workers, environmental destruction, and forced evictions.

Index on Censorship: A complete guide to who controls the Russian news media
In early 2000s various state agencies took financial or managerial control over 70 percent of electronic media outlets, 80 percent of the regional press, and 20 percent of the national press. As a result, Russian media continued to be used as tools of political control but now these “tools” were no longer distributed among competing political parties and businesses, but remained concentrated in the hands of a closed political circle that swore loyalty to President Putin.

Radio Free Europe: Russian Media Tests Boundaries Of State Censorship
It’s not easy being a journalist in Russia, where attacks against reporters have made it one of the most dangerous places to work, and the government has sidelined much of the free press. Still, some media outlets remain highly critical of the authorities. Their journalists say their main difficulty isn’t so much that they’re not able to report about the country’s problems, it’s that no one’s listening.

Freedom House: 2013 Russia Country Report
Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech, vague laws on extremism grant the authorities great discretion to crack down on any speech, organization, or activity that lacks official support. The government controls, directly or through state-owned companies and friendly business magnates, all of the national television networks and many radio and print outlets, as well as most of the media advertising market. Only a small and shrinking number of radio stations and publications with limited reach offer a wide range of viewpoints. In December 2013, Putin abolished the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, which had developed a reputation for objective reporting, and folded it into a new entity called Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), which would be run by pro-Kremlin television commentator Dmitriy Kiselyov and Margarita Simonyan, the head of RT, the Kremlin’s propagandistic international television network. The Kremlin has also increased pressure on formerly outspoken outlets, such as the business newspaper Kommersant, which is now considered to be a progovernment publication.

Image: Cover, The Economist. The Triumph of Vladimir Putin.

I am nervous as I write this. I am in my cold prison cell after my first official exercise session – four glorious hours in the grass yard behind our block and I don’t want that right to be snatched away.

I’ve been locked in my cell 24 hours a day for the past 10 days, allowed out only for visits to the prosecutor for questioning, so the chance for a walk in the weak winter sunshine is precious.

So too are the books on history, Arabic and fiction that my neighbors have passed to me, and the pad and pen I now write with.

I want to cling to these tiny joys and avoid anything that might move the prison authorities to punitively withdraw them. I want to protect them almost as much as I want my freedom back.

Peter Greste, A letter from Tora prison.

The News, via ABC (Australia):

Australian journalist Peter Greste will be detained in solitary confinement in Egypt for at least another 15 days.

Greste was arrested in Cairo in late December along with two [Al Jazeera] colleagues, bureau chief Mohamed Adel Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed.

Egyptian authorities are accusing the crew of holding illegal meetings with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been declared a terrorist group by the military-installed government.

However, the trio says it was merely reporting all sides of the story.

As Greste writes, “The three of us have been accused of collaborating with a terrorist organization [The Muslim Brotherhood], of hosting MB meetings in our hotel rooms, of using unlicensed equipments to deliberately broadcast false information to further their aims and defame and discredit the Egyptian state. The state has presented no evidence to support the allegations, and we have not been formally charged with any crime. But the prosecutor general has just extended our initial 15-day detention by another 15 days to give investigators more time to find something. He can do this indefinitely – one of my prison mates has been behind bars for 6 months without a single charge.”

Hassan El-Laithy, Egypt’s ambassador to Australia, says the detention isn’t personal. Instead, it’s aimed at Al Jazeera as a news organization. 

It has nothing to do with Peter Greste as a person, definitely,” El-Laithy told ABC. “But it is whether those working for a specific television station are abiding by the laws of that specific host country or not.”

Small solace, we imagine, for Greste and his colleagues.

WSJ “Attorney General Holder Pledges Shift On Media”

EXCERPT:

“Attorney General Eric Holder told news editors in a private meeting Thursday that he is committed to changing Justice Department guidelines on investigations involving journalists, in the wake of recent controversies over the seizure of reporters’ phone and email records.

Mr. Holder and aides said they were open to changing the guidelines the department uses to broaden the circle of officials who have to agree that subpoenas are justified as a last resort. The officials also said they were open to annual reviews with news organizations…”

Yes, but will they spy on reporters unabashedly, and intimidate if not ruin the lives of - perhaps justified - whistleblowers?

— Via the Wall Street Journal.

Just Write What the Government Tells You
The News: The Justice Department tracked Fox News’ correspondent James Rosen in an attempt to tie leaks on North Korea to a government advisor.
Via Glenn Greenwald:

If even the most protected journalists - those who work for the largest media outlets - are being targeted [for leaks by the Justice Department], and are saying over and over that the Obama DOJ is preventing basic news gathering from taking place without fear, imagine the effect this all has on independent journalists who are much more vulnerable.

Image: Twitter post from Karen Tumulty

Just Write What the Government Tells You

The News: The Justice Department tracked Fox News’ correspondent James Rosen in an attempt to tie leaks on North Korea to a government advisor.

Via Glenn Greenwald:

If even the most protected journalists - those who work for the largest media outlets - are being targeted [for leaks by the Justice Department], and are saying over and over that the Obama DOJ is preventing basic news gathering from taking place without fear, imagine the effect this all has on independent journalists who are much more vulnerable.

Image: Twitter post from Karen Tumulty

As in 1957, 1966 and 1989, Chinese intellectuals are feeling more or less the same fear as one does before an approaching mountain storm. The scariest [fear] of all is not being silenced or sent to prison; it is the sense of powerlessness and uncertainty about what comes next… It’s as if you are walking into a minefield blindfolded.

Hao Qun, as quoted in The Guardian. China Tries to Rein in Microbloggers.

The News, via The Guardian:

China has launched a new drive to tame its boisterous microblogging culture by closing influential accounts belonging to writers and intellectuals who have used them to highlight social injustice.

The strict censorship of mainstream media in China has made social media an essential forum for public debate, but authorities have shown increasing determination to control it. Previous campaigns have warned the public against spreading rumours – a theme that has recurred in this crackdown – and ordered users to register with their real names.

Now attention has turned to the country’s opinion formers. A recent commentary in the state-run Global Times newspaper warned that “Big Vs” – meaning verified accounts with millions of followers – had become “relay stations for online rumours” and accused them of “harming the dignity of the law”.

Somewhat Related: The South China Morning Post reports that the central government has ordered universities to stop teaching seven subjects, among them civil rights, press freedom and the communist party’s past mistakes.

World Press Freedom Day

Today is World Press Freedom Day, a time to reflect not just on what are traditionally thought of as press freedoms, but also on ordinary citizen’s ability to share and access information via our digital networks.

Via UNESCO

[S]ecuring the safety of journalists continues to be a challenge due to an upward trend in the killings of journalists, media workers, and social media producers. In 2012 alone, UNESCO’s Director-General condemned the killings of 121 journalists, almost double the annual figures of 2011 and 2010. In addition, there continues to be widespread harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and online attacks on journalists in many parts of the world. To compound the problem, the rate of impunity for crimes against journalists, media workers and social media producers remains extremely high.

Responding to this overall context of press freedom, WPFD 2013 focuses on the theme of “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media” and puts the spotlight in particular on the issues of safety of journalists, combating impunity for crimes against freedom of expression, and securing a free and open Internet as the precondition for safety online.

Reporters Without Borders’ annual World Press Freedom Index is a good place to explore how press freedoms work — or don’t work — globally. At the top of the list are Finland, Norway and the Netherlands. Down at the bottom are the same three that that were there a year ago: Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.

Freedom House reports that the percentage of the world’s population “living in societies with a fully free press has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade”:

At first glance, it might seem counterintuitive that media freedom is on the decline. After all, in a world in which news is being produced by a broader range of professionals – as well as citizen journalists and bloggers – information is flowing at faster rates than ever before. And with news being transmitted through a greater variety of mediums – including newspapers, radio, television, the internet, mobile phones, flash drives, and social media – one might expect the level of media freedom worldwide to be improving, not worsening.

As noted, press freedom doesn’t just affect professional journalists, but ordinary citizens committing acts of journalism, activists documenting abuses and members of civil society. Take, for instance, four men in Saudi Arabia interrogated over their attempts to launch a human rights organization. The charge against them, according to Amnesty International: ”founding and publicizing an unlicensed organization as well as launching websites without authorization.”

Related, Part 01: Al Arabiya, Iran, Syria ranked among world’s worst countries for press freedom.

Related, Part 02: UNESCO, Pressing for Freedom: 20 years of World Press Freedom Day (PDF).

Images: World Press Freedom Map (top), via Reporters Without Borders. Crime and Unpunishment: Why Journalists Fear for Their Safety (bottom), via UNESCO. Select to embiggen.

Image Management
Beyonce Knowles has banned press photographers from her ‘Mrs. Carter’ concert tour in an attempt to prevent unbecoming photos of herself from being used by the media. This appears to be a response to unflattering photos published by Gawker and Buzzfeed from the singer’s Superbowl performance.
Now, Beyonce’s personal photographer, Frank Micelotta, is the only one officially allowed to capture images of Beyonce during her concerts. The press is then given a link to an “official” website where they must register to download “approved” images.
In an article in Slate, Alyssa Rosenberg points out the quandary of celebrities censoring — or otherwise trying to completely control — their pictures:

"[Beyonce is] turning the media into a distribution machine for whatever message she wants to send, rather than accepting that others have the right to judge the tour, as a product she’s offering up."

FJP: Pop stars aren’t the only ones practicing the dark arts of image control.
Earlier this winter Politico published an article about the Washington press corps’ frustration with their access to the White House. Part of that criticism was the Obama administration’s use of social media to bypass them with images and information posted directly to the public.
For example, the White House Flickr gallery is made up of photographs by Pete Souza, the official Obama administration photographer. Souza captures and even stages pictures of the president — like Obama’s moment of silence photo op held in honor of the Boston bombings — and many of those images have been used by the news media.
Is it acceptable that politicians can craft their own image, but not celebrities? And how authentic can journalism be if everyone gets their images from one, tightly controlled source?
Sort of related: Attorney, Carolyn E. Wright, points out in  Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast: if you’re in a publicly-accessible area, and you don’t have an expectation of privacy, you’re fair game to be photographed.
Famous people, beware: as long as the media have their will, they’ll get you on camera their way — be you Obama, or be you Beyonce. — Krissy
Image: Beyonce from the Super Bowl, via Pocket-Lint.

Image Management

Beyonce Knowles has banned press photographers from her ‘Mrs. Carter’ concert tour in an attempt to prevent unbecoming photos of herself from being used by the media. This appears to be a response to unflattering photos published by Gawker and Buzzfeed from the singer’s Superbowl performance.

Now, Beyonce’s personal photographer, Frank Micelotta, is the only one officially allowed to capture images of Beyonce during her concerts. The press is then given a link to an “official” website where they must register to download “approved” images.

In an article in Slate, Alyssa Rosenberg points out the quandary of celebrities censoring — or otherwise trying to completely control — their pictures:

"[Beyonce is] turning the media into a distribution machine for whatever message she wants to send, rather than accepting that others have the right to judge the tour, as a product she’s offering up."

FJP: Pop stars aren’t the only ones practicing the dark arts of image control.

Earlier this winter Politico published an article about the Washington press corps’ frustration with their access to the White House. Part of that criticism was the Obama administration’s use of social media to bypass them with images and information posted directly to the public.

For example, the White House Flickr gallery is made up of photographs by Pete Souza, the official Obama administration photographer. Souza captures and even stages pictures of the president — like Obama’s moment of silence photo op held in honor of the Boston bombings — and many of those images have been used by the news media.

Is it acceptable that politicians can craft their own image, but not celebrities? And how authentic can journalism be if everyone gets their images from one, tightly controlled source?

Sort of related: Attorney, Carolyn E. Wright, points out in Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast: if you’re in a publicly-accessible area, and you don’t have an expectation of privacy, you’re fair game to be photographed.

Famous people, beware: as long as the media have their will, they’ll get you on camera their way — be you Obama, or be you Beyonce. — Krissy

Image: Beyonce from the Super Bowl, via Pocket-Lint.

Jailed But Not Forgotten
Reeyot Alemu, an Ethiopian journalist currently serving a five-year prison term for her work reporting on banned opposition groups, just won the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

Alemu was originally arrested with others for “lending support to an underground network of banned opposition groups, which has been criminalized under the country’s 2009 antiterrorism law.” Among the evidence used against her and her colleagues were some 25 articles they’d published in the Ethiopian Review.
In January 2012, Elias Kifle, the publication’s Washington, DC-based editor, was given a life sentence in absentia.

In a letter to Ethiopia’s Minister of Justice earlier this month, the Committee to Protect Jouranlists’ Joel Simon wrote:

Prison authorities have threatened Reeyot with solitary confinement for two months as punishment for alleged bad behavior toward them and threatening to publicize human rights violations by prison guards, according to sources close to the journalist who spoke to the International Women’s Media Foundation on condition of anonymity. CPJ has independently verified the information. Reeyot has also been denied access to adequate medical treatment after she was diagnosed with a tumor in her breast, the sources said…
…All of the charges against Reeyot were based on her journalistic activities—emails she had received from pro-opposition discussion groups and reports and photographs she had sent to opposition news sites. Reeyot, who received the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award in 2012, has covered key developmental issues in Ethiopia such as poverty, democratic opposition, and gender equality.

In 2011, The CJP reported that 79 Ethiopian journalists were in exile. The ruling party, which controls 546 of the 547 seats in parliament has passed laws over the last five years restricting independent media, political opposition groups and civil society organizations.
Image: Reeyot Alemu, via the IWMF.

Jailed But Not Forgotten

Reeyot Alemu, an Ethiopian journalist currently serving a five-year prison term for her work reporting on banned opposition groups, just won the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

Alemu was originally arrested with others for “lending support to an underground network of banned opposition groups, which has been criminalized under the country’s 2009 antiterrorism law.” Among the evidence used against her and her colleagues were some 25 articles they’d published in the Ethiopian Review.

In January 2012, Elias Kifle, the publication’s Washington, DC-based editor, was given a life sentence in absentia.

In a letter to Ethiopia’s Minister of Justice earlier this month, the Committee to Protect Jouranlists’ Joel Simon wrote:

Prison authorities have threatened Reeyot with solitary confinement for two months as punishment for alleged bad behavior toward them and threatening to publicize human rights violations by prison guards, according to sources close to the journalist who spoke to the International Women’s Media Foundation on condition of anonymity. CPJ has independently verified the information. Reeyot has also been denied access to adequate medical treatment after she was diagnosed with a tumor in her breast, the sources said…

…All of the charges against Reeyot were based on her journalistic activities—emails she had received from pro-opposition discussion groups and reports and photographs she had sent to opposition news sites. Reeyot, who received the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award in 2012, has covered key developmental issues in Ethiopia such as poverty, democratic opposition, and gender equality.

In 2011, The CJP reported that 79 Ethiopian journalists were in exile. The ruling party, which controls 546 of the 547 seats in parliament has passed laws over the last five years restricting independent media, political opposition groups and civil society organizations.

Image: Reeyot Alemu, via the IWMF.

Relaunching the News in Burma
Starting April 1, Burma will allow daily newspapers for the first time since its 1962 military coup.
How does a startup publication prepare for the date? Practice. As in, report the day’s news, write, edit, lay it out, print it out and then review it internally. Try to create a workflow that gets you on a daily schedule. And, yeah, figure out what un-censored journalism actually looks like.
Via the Atlantic:

For the last three months, the dailies have been written, edited and printed on photocopiers as practice for the day when that ban will be lifted. After five decades of military rule and strict media controls, that long-awaited day is fast approaching, and journalists around the country are up against the most exciting deadline they have ever faced: April 1, the first day in decades when daily newspapers can be sold freely. To prepare, media companies are now scrambling to figure out everything from how to write news on a daily basis to how much to charge for a daily issue.
Closed to the world since a military coup in 1962, Burma appears to have missed the news that the print media is dying. The democratically elected, although still military-dominated, government that came to power in 2010 has decided that media will be among the first areas of reform, driving massive hiring and investment in the industry. The government ended media censorship in August and soon followed by announcing that daily newspapers would be allowed in April.
The policy change will end the short-lived heyday of private weekly newspapers, commonly called journals, the most popular of which have only launched since 2000. Regulators under the military government had allowed weeklies, as they afforded censors ample time to pore over the papers for signs of dissension. A thriving group of more than 200 private weeklies arose during the last decade as the reading public sought an alternative to government-run dailies that read more like staid corporate newsletters than newspapers.

Personal Aside: This topic fascinates me. In 2003-2004, I went to Saudi Arabia with five other international journalists to run this exact same exercise. We worked with a local media organization to rebrand and relaunch its English-language newspaper.
At the time, the Saudi government was allowing greater press freedoms and our goal was to eliminate old habits (no, rewriting a press release isn’t reporting the news), instill new ones (when someone tells you the sky is purple, look up, verify, and come back with a follow-up about why they might think so) and train a new generation of Saudis on all things journalism. — Michael
Image: The Voice Weekly, by Jake Spring via the Atlantic, It’s Tough to Start a Newspaper After 50 Years of State Censorship.

Relaunching the News in Burma

Starting April 1, Burma will allow daily newspapers for the first time since its 1962 military coup.

How does a startup publication prepare for the date? Practice. As in, report the day’s news, write, edit, lay it out, print it out and then review it internally. Try to create a workflow that gets you on a daily schedule. And, yeah, figure out what un-censored journalism actually looks like.

Via the Atlantic:

For the last three months, the dailies have been written, edited and printed on photocopiers as practice for the day when that ban will be lifted. After five decades of military rule and strict media controls, that long-awaited day is fast approaching, and journalists around the country are up against the most exciting deadline they have ever faced: April 1, the first day in decades when daily newspapers can be sold freely. To prepare, media companies are now scrambling to figure out everything from how to write news on a daily basis to how much to charge for a daily issue.

Closed to the world since a military coup in 1962, Burma appears to have missed the news that the print media is dying. The democratically elected, although still military-dominated, government that came to power in 2010 has decided that media will be among the first areas of reform, driving massive hiring and investment in the industry. The government ended media censorship in August and soon followed by announcing that daily newspapers would be allowed in April.

The policy change will end the short-lived heyday of private weekly newspapers, commonly called journals, the most popular of which have only launched since 2000. Regulators under the military government had allowed weeklies, as they afforded censors ample time to pore over the papers for signs of dissension. A thriving group of more than 200 private weeklies arose during the last decade as the reading public sought an alternative to government-run dailies that read more like staid corporate newsletters than newspapers.

Personal Aside: This topic fascinates me. In 2003-2004, I went to Saudi Arabia with five other international journalists to run this exact same exercise. We worked with a local media organization to rebrand and relaunch its English-language newspaper.

At the time, the Saudi government was allowing greater press freedoms and our goal was to eliminate old habits (no, rewriting a press release isn’t reporting the news), instill new ones (when someone tells you the sky is purple, look up, verify, and come back with a follow-up about why they might think so) and train a new generation of Saudis on all things journalism. — Michael

Image: The Voice Weekly, by Jake Spring via the Atlantic, It’s Tough to Start a Newspaper After 50 Years of State Censorship.

Leaked Audio of Bradley Manning Statement Released by Freedom of the Press Foundation →

Via the Foundation:

Today, Freedom of the Press Foundation is publishing the full, previously unreleased audio recording of Private First Class Bradley Manning’s speech to the military court in Ft. Meade about his motivations for leaking over 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks. In addition, we have published highlights from Manning’s statement to the court.

While unofficial transcripts of this statement are available, this marks the first time the American public has heard the actual voice of Manning.

He explains to the military court in his own cadence and words how and why he gave the Apache helicopter video, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars Logs, and the State Department Diplomatic Cables to WikiLeaks. Manning explains his motives, noting how he believed the documents showed deep wrongdoing by the government and how he hoped that the release would “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.” In conjunction with the statement, Private First Class Manning also pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges against him.

A World Without Leaks →

Via Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor, New York Times.

Imagine if American citizens never learned about the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Imagine not knowing about the brutal treatment of terror suspects at United States government “black sites.” Or about the drone program that is expanding under President Obama, or the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping of Americans.

This is a world without leaks.

And a world without leaks — the secret government information slipped to the press — may be the direction we’re headed in. Since 9/11, leakers and whistle-blowers have become an increasingly endangered species. Some, like the former C.I.A. official John Kiriakou, have gone to jail. Another, Pfc. Bradley Manning, is charged with “aiding the enemy” for the masses of classified information he gave to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks. He could face life in prison…

Declan Walsh, a reporter who wrote many WikiLeaks-based stories for The Guardian before coming to The Times, calls leaks “the unfiltered lifeblood of investigative journalism.” He wrote in an e-mail from his post in Pakistan: “They may come from difficult, even compromised sources, be ridden with impurities and require careful handling to produce an accurate story. None of that reduces their importance to journalism.”…

…Whatever one’s view, one fact is clear: Leakers are being prosecuted and punished like never before. Consider that the federal Espionage Act, passed in 1917, was used only three times in its first 92 years to prosecute government officials for press leaks. But the Obama administration, in the president’s first term alone, used it six times to go after leakers. Now some of them have gone to jail.

The crackdown sends a loud message. Scott Shane, who covers national security for The Times, says that message is being heard — and heeded.

There’s definitely a chilling effect,” he told me. “Government officials who might otherwise discuss sensitive topics will refer to these cases in rebuffing a request for background information.”

Margaret Sullivan, New York Times. The Danger of Suppressing Leaks