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Voice of America: China’s Foreign Ministry questioned on Al Jazeera journalist visa issue

Image by jamiejohndavies on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Voice of America has published what it says is a transcript of questions put to the spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, in relation to Al Jazeera English’s report that its China correspondent Melissa Chan had her visa renewal application “refused”.

Journalism.co.uk reported on Tuesday (8 May) that Al Jazeera English has closed down its Beijing bureau after Chan’s visa was apparently “refused” by authorities.

Al Jazeera said in its report “it is continuing to request a presence in China”.

Voice of America has published “a transcript of some of the questions and answers at the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s daily briefing” in which a spokesman is said to have responded to questions from foreign journalists about what had happened.

Hong Lei: I have stressed that China welcomes foreign journalists to report in China and we have also provided convenience to foreign journalists in reporting objectively in China. I think you have been in China for several years and are very clear about this. At the same time I want to stress that foreign journalists should abide by Chinese laws and regulations while reporting in China.

Read Voice of America’s full article here.

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Al Jazeera: Video filmed by Toulouse gunman did not meet code of ethics

March 28th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

Al Jazeera English has said it will not broadcast footage filmed by a gunman who shot and killed seven people in southern France as it does not meet its code of ethics.

Three soldiers, three Jewish children and a rabbi died in the three shooting attacks in Toulouse and Montauban earlier this month. Gunman Mohammed Merah died following a 30-hour siege.

The video, said to have been filmed by Merah and named “Al Qaeda attaque la France” – meaning “Al-Qaeda attacks France”, was reportedly “sent on a USB memory stick to Al Jazeera’s office in Paris”.

The broadcaster said it has passed it on to police.

The report on Al Jazeera’s website states: “The video shows the attacks in chronological order, with audible gunshots and voices of the killer and the victims. But it does not show the face of the confessed murderer, Mohammed Merah, and it does not contain a statement from him.

The network on Tuesday said the video did not add any information that was not already in public domain.

The report adds that Zied Tarrouche, Al Jazeera’s Paris bureau chief, said that “the images were a bit shaky but of a high technical quality”.

He also said the video had clearly been manipulated after the fact, with religious songs and recitations of Quranic verses laid over the footage.

Al Jazeera also reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday urged television networks not to broadcast the video and that family members of the victims have asked that the footage not be aired.

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BSkyB CEO confirms he pulled Sky News story on F1

March 21st, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

Jeremy Darroch, the chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting, has confirmed that he asked Sky News to pull a story on Formula 1, ahead of the launch of a Sky F1 HD channel.

The Financial Times yesterday reported that Darroch “ordered a news story to be removed from the Sky News website after an executive producer complained that it had upset Formula 1 racing teams”.

“I asked the team to review the story,” Darroch told the Guardian Changing Media Summit, where he was delivering a keynote speech in which he announced the launch of a no contract, pay-as-you-go internet TV service from Sky called NowTV.

He said Sky News “has absolute independence and integrity” but added that “there are times as CEO … when you have to challenge parts of the business”.

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – safety advice from women journalists on the frontline

The BBC has collected some of the safety tips shared by women journalists in the INSI publication launched last week: No Woman’s Land, which features the stories of more than 30 female journalists who have reported from the frontline.

Read more here.

Tipster: Rachel McAthy

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at Journalism.co.uk email us using this link– we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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Al Jazeera to broadcast Syria documentary filmed entirely on iPhone

In an interesting development for mobile journalism, Al Jazeera is due to broadcast a documentary tomorrow night (Wednesday, 14 March) on Syria which has been filmed by a journalist using just an iPhone due to safety concerns.

According to a press release, the film, called ‘Syria: Songs of Defiance‘, “follows the journalist, who is not named to protect the people he spoke to, on a journey amongst the uprising in Syria”.

At the start of the documentary, the release adds, the correspondent for Al Jazeera will be heard saying:

I can’t tell you my name. I’ve spent many months secretly in Syria for Al Jazeera.

I cannot show my face and my voice is disguised to conceal my identity, because I don’t want to endanger my contacts in Syria.

Because carrying a camera would be risky, I took my cell phone with me as I moved around the country and captured images from the uprising that have so far remained unseen.

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CNN to air documentary offering ‘unfiltered look at reporting from Syria’

Image: CNN

On Friday CNN will air a one-hour documentary which looks at the “challenges and dangers” its team encountered while reporting from the Syrian city of Homs.

The broadcasting of the documentary, called ‘72 Hours Under Fire‘, comes two weeks after two Western journalists – Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik – were killed in the same city, after a building they were in was shelled.

According to a release, in the CNN documentary the broadcaster’s journalists who reported from Homs and the news executives “tasked with keeping them safe” will discuss the dangers taken as part of their aim of “getting the story out of Syria”.

The experienced team CNN sent into Homs included Beirut-based correspondent Arwa Damon, photojournalist Neil Hallsworth and security risk advisor Tim Crockett. 72 Hours Under Fire chronicles their journey into and out of Homs, the dangers they faced while newsgathering and reporting there and why this assignment was different than previous ones.

Below are two videos which have been published online by CNN ahead of the documentary:

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Guardian: Ryan Giggs named in court as injunction footballer

Copyright: Martin Rickett/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Ryan Giggs has been named in court for the first time as the footballer behind an injunction taken out against the Sun, the Guardian reports.

According to the news site, the footballer “agreed to lift the anonymity injunction” in a hearing at the high court in London earlier today.

Giggs took out the injunction in order to prevent the tabloid revealing an affair.

Thousands ignored the court ruling and named him as the footballer in question on Twitter, leaving journalists in a “strange situation” concerning the reporting of his name.

The Guardian states:

Hugh Tomlinson QC, counsel for Giggs, told the court that the footballer had been subject to “large scale breaches of the order by malign individuals”.

“The claimant’s name is in the public domain contrary to court orders,” he added. “The claimant has consented to the removal of the anonymity order completely.”

Mr Justice Tugendhat said: “Anonymity no longer applies and has not applied since 1 February.”

According to the Guardian, Mr Justice Tugendhat is considering “a claim by Giggs for damages for alleged misuse of private information by the Sun”.

Giggs is also seeking an injunction “to restrain future publication of private information”, according to the report.

The court heard that the anonymity order that prevented the media from naming Giggs was lifted on 1 February. However, an “administrative error” by Giggs’s solicitors meant the Sun was not informed.

The counsel for News Group Newspapers, the publisher of the Sun, reportedly told the court the injunction claim should be thrown out.

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BBC 5 Live: Kavanagh says Sun police investigation is ‘wildly disproportionate’ to potential offences

February 13th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Newspapers, Press freedom and ethics

In a series of interviews to UK broadcast media today, Trevor Kavanagh, associate editor at the Sun, criticised what he sees as police heavy-handedness during the dawn arrests of key Sun staff over the weekend.

In the above clip, Kavanagh gives his most controversial interview of the day to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Richard Bacon, criticising both the police operation and News Corporation’s own investigation by its Management Standards Committee. “There’s never been a bigger crisis than this [at the Sun]“, Kavanagh tells Bacon.

Here’s the full transcript:

RB: “Trevor Kavanagh told me earlier about the atmosphere in the Sun news room.”

TK: “Well despondent I would say and a feeling of being under siege I suppose.”

RB: [paraphrase] Re: Rupert Murdoch planning to fly in later this week – will he face a hostile newsroom?

TK: “Well I think the newsroom is full of people who feel deeply unhappy about the way that their colleagues, who they worked alongside for sometimes decades and who they respect and admire as supremely professional operators, have ended up being arrested, searched, put on police bail and suspended from their duties and so there is a huge amount of anger at the fact that this has happened. And, as I would point out, not a single one of them has been charged, let alone tried or convicted.”

RB: “Do some people at the Sun feel as though their parent company has hung them out to dry a bit?”

TK: “Well there’s certainly a mood of unhappiness that the company’s proudly, certain parts of the company, not News International I hasten to add, not the newspaper side of the operation, are actually boasting that they’re sending information to the police which would put these people I’ve just described into police cells.”

RB: “Forgive me, I know the structure of the company is quite complex, when you refer to another bit of the company, what does that mean, what are you talking about?”

TK: “Well there is a parent company, News Corporation, and that has set up this management committee to look into the evidence, the documentary evidence and so on, if there is any, against any members of staff. Now I think it’s fair to say that we are not opposed to the fact, that we are co-operating with the police, that’s what we should be doing and I think that if we are to get through this we need to provide them with all the co-operation we can. I think that perhaps what we best do is if we left them go through the evidence and found out what they can.”

RB: “That word ‘boasting’, what do you mean by that?”

TK: “Well I meant that when the arrests were made it was made clear that they had been arrested on the basis of evidence provided by this management committee.”

RB: “Are you saying that they shouldn’t have provided that evidence, they should have let the police come for that evidence?”

TK: “Well I think that, I don’t know how it works frankly but it does make us feel, make people in the company feel, that evidence which as of far as we know, I have to point this out, that on the basis of the evidence that’s been suggested to those who have been arrested so far, is pretty flimsy stuff. I can’t describe it in any further detail than that but it doesn’t really stand close scrutiny and people are wondering what on earth is happening.”

RB: “A lot of the evidence has come from the parent company now. It gets complex because I know that a lot of emails have been handed over. These are emails that were thought to be missing and now have been recovered and there’s something like I think 11 million of them. When you say the evidence is flimsy are you saying you more or less know exactly what evidence the police have at the moment?”

TK: “No I don’t and I’m not going to go any further into what evidence may or may not be available.”

RB: “Why do you say it’s flimsy then if you don’t know?”

TK: “Well because I have been told what the police have been asking about and those, you see the people that have been arrested have been told why they have been arrested and on the basis of that I would say that the evidence is flimsy. What other evidence is about I simply don’t know but my point today is that this police operation is wildly disproportionate with what might be the potential offences that may or may not have been committed.”

RB: “How many police are involved in this investigation?”

TK: “You have 171 officers who are involved in three separate investigations and this is the biggest single police operation in the history of British policing. It is bigger than the operation on the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing, it’s far, far bigger, totally dwarfs the operation on Milly Dowler and nobody’s died, nobody’s committed any hideous offences that I’m aware of or even been suggested as having committed such offences. It does seem to me wildly disproportionate that these police officers are raiding people’s homes with up to 20 officers at a time, ransacking their homes, going through their personal possessions, carting off sacks of paper after a dawn raid. It’s completely out of proportion.”

RB: “Why do you think it’s got here, why do you think that the operation is on such a scale, is it partly about the police trying to recover their own reputation do you think?”

TK: “I suspect that’s the case, they feel that they’ve lost a police commissioner and a deputy police commissioner and they now want to make it abundantly clear that they aren’t going to leave a single stone, floorboard, drawer, cupboard, Kellogg’s cornflake packet or any other part of a household untouched in their hunt for evidence that may or may not exist.”

RB: “Do you think the investigation would be smaller if News International had been more co-operative with the initial phone-hacking allegations?”

TK: “Well that may or may not be the case but this is not the point, the point is that as we speak 30 journalists have been suspended from their jobs, their careers may have been ruined by this and their families have been shocked and appalled by dawn raids by people acting I think in a disproportionate way when I think a polite knock on the door, perhaps after a phone call, would have unearthed precisely the same so-called evidence. I don’t know whether it’s evidence or simply other pieces of paper that’s in every household.”

RB: “But when I say co-operative in the first place I think that’s an important point because initially the company said it was all down to one individual and that turned out not to be true and they misled parliament, they misled the public, then they said these 11 million emails had gone missing whilst being transferred to the Middle East and now 11 million have been recovered. But News International may have played its own part in the police investigation being of this scale.”

TK: “Well that’s for you to suggest and it’s…”

RB: “I don’t know that Trevor…”

TK: “Let me finish my sentence…”

RB: “OK”.

TK: “It may well be the case I don’t know, I’m not involved in any of that side of things and what you have to remember is that if indeed we were misjudging things or getting them wrong completely even, we have already paid a pretty heavy price for that have we not? We have had to close one of the biggest newspapers and the oldest and one of the best newspapers in the country and 300 excellent journalists have paid the price. Now, I think that we were talking earlier about the witch-hunt and I think that the view of those who are out to get us in this witch-hunt is that nothing will satisfy them until News International has gone altogether.”

RB: “Who are those people Trevor, who do you think really is out to get the company?”

TK: “Well I think one person quite clearly is Tom Watson, I don’t think he would deny it but I don’t want to go into any further detail about who… I mean you and others can easily decide who you think might fit the bill but when you have an operation as disproportionate as this you have to wonder what they’re up to, and why.”

RB: “And I guess just finally Trevor with the story about Rupert Murdoch flying back in this week to face his hostile newsroom do you think there is any chance at all that the Sun itself could go the way of the News of the World and get closed down?”

TK: “No. I think that the Sun is a paper that if it hadn’t been invented you would have to re-invent it then. I think that the fact is this is a great newspaper, it’s loved by millions, it’s even loved occasionally by the BBC. I think the idea of losing a paper of this sort would surely be the ultimate disproportionate act would it not?”

RB: “Mmm. It’s very successful as well isn’t it? It’s one of the few newspapers left that makes a lot of money I think as well.”

TK: “It is, it’s successful for a very good reason, it’s successful because it breaks great stories, it’s successful because it represents its readers’ interests. It’s successful because it has a vigour and a lifestyle and a life force which resonates through this country. It is the greatest newspaper in this country.”

RB: “By the way the journalists that were arrested, are they back at work?”

TK: “They’ve been suspended.”

RB: “Yeah, OK. Trevor, thank you…”

TK: “Indefinitely I have to say without any prospect of knowing when any further action is going to be taken, if any.”

RB: “Is that the right call by the Sun to suspend them or do you think that’s a bit harsh?”

TK: “Well I think that, I don’t think there’s much choice once this has happened but you know it’s hard for people like me who have worked alongside people we admire and respect for, in my case, nearly 40 years with the Sun, to see them languishing at home, frustrated and unable to do anything to defend themselves and I feel very sorry for them and I know it’s causing them and their families a great deal of anguish.”

RB: “I’m sure that’s right. I didn’t realise you’d been with the paper for 40 years, did you ever see the newspaper at a lower ebb than this, have you ever been through a bigger crisis than this at the Sun?”

TK: “There’s never been a bigger crisis than this.”

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Max Clifford and Phil Hall to appear before privacy committee

January 30th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Press freedom and ethics

Publicist Max Clifford and former editor of the News of the World and Hello! Phil Hall will take questions from MPs and Lords this afternoon.

They will appear before the joint committee on privacy and injunctions, which is currently questioning social media groups.

The four currently taking questions are: Lord Allan of Hallam, director of policy in Europe for Facebook; DJ Collins, vice president of global policy and communications at Google; Collins’ colleague at the internet giant Daphne Keller, who is associate general counsel at Google; and Colin Crowell, head of global public policy at Twitter.

The joint committee on privacy and injunctions was set up in May last year by prime minister David Cameron, with the aim, as outlined by attorney general Dominic Grieve, of looking at whether the current system of privacy and injunctions is working “and to consider whether we might make any changes that would make thing work better”.

The establishment of the committee followed the move by MP John Hemming to use parliamentary privilege to name a footballer at the centre of a privacy injunction, which had prevented the press from reporting on the matter but had seen speculation on sites such as Twitter.

Clifford and Hall are due to face questions at 3.15pm and can be viewed on Parliament TV

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Norway: Journalism school to revise curriculum in aftermath of terror attacks

Norwegian journalist and blogger Kristine Lowe has written a blog post explaining how an Oslo-based journalism school is considering revising the curriculum in the aftermath of the Norway attacks.

The potential development in a Norwegian journalism school should serve as a reminder to those running UK courses to assess whether they offer sufficient crisis training.

According to Lowe’s post, the suggestion to revise the curriculum of the Oslo and Akershus University College journalism school follows a survey of the Norwegian journalists who covered the 22/7 terror attacks, which saw a bomb damage the building of VG, Norway’s largest newspaper, followed by a massacre on Utøya island.

Lowe explains that the study was carried out by Trond Idaas, an advisor to the Norwegian Journalist Union, who “has also written a masters thesis on the experiences of journalists covering the Tsunami in 2004″, adding that “he feels it is very important that crisis reporting becomes an integral part of journalism training”.

Idaas’ research reportedly found that 40 per cent of the journalists covering the tragic events on 22/7 had less than five years of journalistic experience, July being in the middle of the summer holidays in Norway, as Lowe explains.

She states:

This finding has, according to Journalisten, been an important reason for the journalism school at Oslo and Akershus University College to suggest making crisis reporting an integral part of its bachelor degree. Also, there were widespread public reactions to the use of live broadcasts from Utvika on 22/7, when some of those intereviewed quite obviously were in a state of shock.

Idaas said integrating crisis reporting in the curriculum, such as suggested at Oslo and Akershus University College, is “quite revolutionary and not even widespread internationally”.

That seems to be true in the UK. A quick and straw poll carried out via Twitter, in which we asked journalism students and lecturers whether universities currently include classes on how to report on terror and catastrophes, suggests crisis reporting is not included in the training offered by many journalism courses. Some courses, including one at City University, do offer some guidance and advice.

Are you aware of a journalism school that trains journalists in crisis reporting? Do you think training should be offered more widely? Leave a comment below.

Kristine Lowe’s post is at this link.

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