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#Tip: Watch today’s UN open debate on protecting journalists


After pressure from campaign groups such as A Day Without News? (ADWN), the UN Security Council will today be holding an open debate on the protection of journalists in conflict situations.

Attacks on journalists and media personnel were condemned in Security Council Resolution 1738, passed in December 2006, but in a media briefing announcing the debate, acting US ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said that since 2006 “worldwide violence against journalists has worsened and there has been a particular increase in murders and imprisonment arising from conflict situations”.

Speaking at the debate will be Associated Press executive editor Kathleen Carroll, vice chair of the board of the Committee to Protect Journalist and AP executive editor; Mustafa Haji Abdinur, a Somali journalist from Radio Simba and Agence France Presse; Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad of the Guardian; and NBC’s Richard Engel.

The council will be briefed by U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and the debate will be webcast live from the UN’s webtv channel at 10am EST.

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#Tip: Reporting on local government meetings

Last month, the government published new guidelines setting down the rights of journalists and the general public to film council meetings and report on them via social media.

Richard Taylor, who works for freedom of information site, among other roles, was invited to write a piece for the Guardian on the subject. The final copy wasn’t published, but Taylor published these excellent tips for observing and reporting on public meetings in local government on his blog.

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#Podcast: Reporting from dangerous places

This podcast takes a look at three countries where reporting can be dangerous, where journalists may be attacked or killed while trying to get the story out.

It looks at the complex situation in Pakistan, hears from a citizen journalist in Sri Lanka, and from the editorial director of a newspaper in Mexico based in a city which is the disputed turf of two rival drug cartels.

Technology editor at Sarah Marshall speaks to:

  • Sanjana Hattotuwa, founder of Sri Lanka’s citizen journalism site Groundviews
  • Elizabeth Rubin, a journalist who has just written a report for the Committee to Protect Journalists on the dangers of reporting from Pakistan
  • Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist and author
  • Javier Garza Ramos, editorial director, El Siglo de Torreon, Mexico

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the iTunes podcast feed. interviewed Sanjana Hattotuwa and Javier Garca at the World Editors Forum in Bangkok, and spoke to Elizabeth Rubin and Ahmed Rashid at an event organised by the Committee to Protect Journalists in London.

Related: Sri Lanka: Using Google Earth as a storytelling tool

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#wef12 – WAN-IFRA publishes ‘report on violence against Mexico’s press’

September 5th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Press freedom and ethics

Image by Christian Frausto Bernal on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

WAN-IFRA has this week published a report called “a death threat to freedom”, which looks at “violence against Mexico’s press”.

The report was published on Tuesday (4 September), a day after the organisation’s World Editors Forum presented the Golden Pen of Freedom to Mexican journalist Anabel Hernandez.

The report calls on the government to “take urgent action to guarantee the safety of journalists and media professionals”.

Receiving her award yesterday, Hernandez urged the international community to not “just stand and watch”.

“I do not want to be another number on the list,” she said. “I do not want to be another dead journalist, I want to be one of those who fought to live and who survives.”

I dedicate and symbolically award this prize to all the Mexican journalists whose voices have been silenced by death, forced disappearance or censorship.

I also dedicate it to all those Mexican journalists who daily continue to set an example in their duty to inform and denounce at whatever cost.

Here is a link to her full acceptance speech.

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#Tip of the day from – ethical journalism standards resources

The Ethical Journalism Network, a partnership of organisations including the Global Editors’ Network, the Online News Association and the International Press Institute, has produced a page of resources on its website relating to ethical standards, from news outlet and professional journalism group guidelines, to case studies and regional campaign groups.

Tipster: Rachel McAthy

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#Tip of the day from – dealing with corrections

All journalists make errors occasionally, but do they all know how to deal with corrections in the age of digital journalism and social media?

At’s news:rewired – full stream ahead conference on Friday (13 July), Craig Silverman, founder, Regret the Error (now published on Poynter) shared his tips for dealing with corrections.

His tips include:

  • Do not delete a tweet
  • Be clear about what was wrong, and the correct information
  • A correction is an act of promotion that builds trust

Here is the must-read list that is well worth bookmarking.

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#Tip of the day from – how to ask for data under FoI

At a meeting of Hacks/Hackers Canterbury on Monday, Nicola Hughes, a Knight-Mozilla fellow working at the Guardian, was asked a question about how to best get hold of a spreadsheet containing data when using the Freedom of Information Act.

Hughes explained that if the data exists as a spreadsheet or CSV file, the authority is obliged to make it available.

If a council or public body responds by stating it cannot release the data as some is confidential (details of those in foster care, for example), a request can be made to find out what details are in the database or spreadsheet and the person digging for information can then tailor their request to exclude the confidential information.

Ask for the “schema, name and footnotes” and the relationship between them, Hughes said, and then you can ask for what you are interested in.

For more on how to submit and FoI request see this guide.

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#Activateldn: Why Facebook is a key reporting tool for Zimbabwe’s SW Radio Africa

After being fired from one job and finding her house surrounded by Zimbabwean paramilitaries six days after she set up Capital Radio and aired a test broadcast, Gerry Jackson then launched SW Radio Africa.

And Facebook has become a key tool for finding stories, Jackson told today’s Guardian Activate London conference in a talk called “media in exile”.

Jackson spoke of the human rights abuses, corruption and repression in the country, and how the radio station and SW Radio Africa website aim to expose wrongdoings.

She told the conference that Zimbabwe is “trapped” as “nothing changes”.

We are groundhogs [like in the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day]. We are reliving the same day over and over. That’s what it feels like in Zimbabwe.

But although we are groundhogs and do the same stories over and over again, we do highlight stories that rest of the world doesn’t seem pick up on.

Jackson is particularly proud of the radio station’s exposes. The website published a leaked list of the names of 450 individuals who had allegedly committed acts of violence.

The expose received a “huge response on Facebook”, Jackson said. But explained that “people were very frightened to write publicly” so instead messaged the journalist who worked on the story to report details of further atrocities.

The reporters at SW Radio Africa also arrange most of their interviews via the platform. They are also aware that the ruling party “keeps a close eye on Facebook”.

Jackson said around one million people in the country of roughly 12 million are on Facebook, with two million internet connections and nine million mobile phones with 700,000 of those being used for internet access.

It’s impossible to underestimate how much Zimbabweans love Facebook.

She said that not only includes those within the country but Zimbabweans living in exile, which is perhaps one third of the total population.

And key political figures are on Facebook, including members of the Zanu-PF party.

It’s interesting to see their list of [Facebook] friends.

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PCC seeks ideas from Irish press regulatory system


The Press Complaints Commission is looking at the Irish press watchdog system as a possible option for reforming the UK self-regulatory approach, according to reports.

Press Council of Ireland chairman Dáithí O’Ceallaigh is quoted by the Irish Times as saying the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, Lord Hunt, and other senior PCC officials have visited Dublin for a “lengthy meeting” to look at how the Irish press regulatory system works.

The Press Council is part of a two-tier approach introduced in Ireland in 2008. Complaints are first referred to a separate Press Ombudsman, who tries to deal with them through conciliation.

If a resolution cannot be achieved, the ombudsman can make a ruling based on a code of practice and can refer significant complaints to the 13-strong Press Council, which runs independently of government and media.

Mr O’Ceallaigh said:

The fact that they came here at all, and those discussions, reflect the fact that Leveson himself and a number of the witnesses at the inquiry in Britain have already publicly expressed their interest in the origins, the structure and the functions of the Press Council and the Press Ombudsman in Ireland.

Meanwhile, Lord Justice Leveson gave a strong hint yesterday afternoon about the regulatory structure he could recommend when his report comes out later this year.

He discussed allowing group complaints and introducing a “swift” system for dealing with privacy and libel issues without lawyers. Leveson also suggested that an ombudsman could give guidance on whether a newspaper needs to notify the subject of a story before publication.

He said yesterday:

Whatever comes out of this must be independent of government, independent of the state, independent of parliament but independent of the press. It has to have expertise on it or available to it, but must command the respect of the press but equally the respect of the public.

It seems to me that it can do lots of different things. I would like to think about a system that provides redress particularly to those who can’t afford to litigate.

At the moment, the PCC doesn’t take group complaints. So, for example – and I had a number of people giving evidence from, for example, the transgender community and other groups, who say, ‘Well, because there’s no name in this, there’s nobody to complain, and therefore there is no mechanism to obtain redress for them.’

Leveson also said there needed to be “some sort of mechanism to resolve disputes. So that can be consensual, the complaint-solving thing, but a mechanism in the absence of consensual resolution”.

I equally understand that there is an argument that in some circumstances requiring prior notification would lead to litigation and would kill the story. So there has to be some way of drawing a line.

One possibility might be to say there is some mechanism within the regulatory regime that allows the press to say: ‘Look, we have this story, we don’t feel we ought to notify the subject of it for these reasons: he’ll destroy the evidence’, or whatever and to get a view.

If either he doesn’t ask or alternatively he does ask and gets the answer: ‘No, we think you ought to notify’, then again, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t publish, it’s up to him, but then perhaps there should be a potential regime for exemplary damages. I’m just throwing out ideas.

But then I have another mechanism for swift resolution of privacy, small libel-type issues. Not the enormous stuff, perhaps an inquisitorial regime which can be done without lawyers, but some mechanism for members of the public to be able to challenge decisions and get a swift response.

On top of all that, one has to have a mechanism that means that sanctions work. I recognise entirely the parlous financial position of much of the press, but it’s important that sanctions are taken seriously.

Leveson added:

When I said to [Jeremy] Paxman that I didn’t want my report to end up on the second shelf of a professor of journalism’s study as yet another failed attempt, his only comment was to say: ‘As high as the second shelf?’

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Hugh Grant: Leveson inquiry has shone ‘disinfectant sunlight’ into ‘infected corners’

May 18th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

Hugh Grant, Tom Watson MP and president of the National Union of Journalists Donnacha Delong were among a number of speakers at a rally calling for media reform last night.

The Livestream video embedded below shows the speeches, with Hugh Grant praising the “progress made since last July”.

The first two modules of Leveson inquiry has shone a lot of very disinfectant sunlight into a lot of very infected corners.

He added that he believes the public has started to realise the scandal is “not just about phone hacking but a wider corruption of police and officials and the intimidation elected politicians”.

We’ve been living for the past 30 years in a media-controlled state.

Giving the example of police production orders calling for journalists to hand over journalists’ footage, Donnacha Delong from the NUJ called for a new regulator to define journalists’ rights and responsibilities.

Improved press regulation which details the rights and responsibilities of the press is potentially something we could use to defend the press against from those kinds of illegitimate requests from those in power.

mediareform on Broadcast Live Free
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