Browse > Home /

The Economist: Rows at Doha Centre for Media Freedom

From The Economist: ‘A freedom-promoting media centre is accused of going too far too fast’. The organisation’s head, founder and former secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Robert Ménard, is involved in rows with Qatari officials and critics.

“When the Qataris asked Robert Ménard to run what they heralded as the world’s first press freedom centre, in Doha, their capital, they were probably asking for trouble. An intrepid Frenchman who had previously run a Paris-based lobby, Reporters Without Borders, Mr Ménard is famous for courting controversy. Last year he disrupted a torch-lighting ceremony in Greece that was meant to be a dignified prelude to the Olympic games in China. Later he scaled Notre Dame Cathedral and unfurled a protest banner as the torch was carried through Paris. Now, only months after becoming head of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, he is entangled in a row that may well be more bitter than anything he has experienced.”

Full story at this link…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

World Association of Newspapers calls for press freedom in China

October 29th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and the World Editors Forum have written to the Chinese government about international standards of press freedom in the country.

Laws in China restricting foreign journalists were temporarily relaxed during the Olympic Games in Beijing and have recently been extended by authorities.

In a letter dated October 21, WAN wrote to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in an attempt to change the laws permanently:

Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications in 102 countries, to welcome the extension of the relaxation in media regulations, but also to call on you to take further steps to uphold international standards of press freedom.

In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, your government introduced new rules that allowed foreign journalists greater freedom to travel in the country without prior government permission and to talk to anyone who was willing to be interviewed. Those regulations were set to expire on 17 October, however, shortly before they expired new regulations were introduced that recognise these rights.

While welcoming the extension of the more relaxed regulations for foreign journalists, we are concerned that they do not extend to domestic journalists and that many fundamental rights necessary for the proper functioning of a free press are not observed. For example, there is no protection of news sources, it is not possible to report freely on Tibet and hotels are obliged to report the arrival of a foreign journalist to police. Furthermore, with more than 30 journalists and at least 50 cyber reporters imprisoned, China jails more journalists than any other.

We respectfully call on you to extend the relaxed regulations to domestic journalists, to introduce further reforms so that your country might fully respect international standards of press freedom, and to ensure that all
those detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression are immediately released from prison.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Gavin O’Reilly
President
World Association of Newspapers

Xavier Vidal-Folch
President
World Editors Forum

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

RSF: China re-blocks Reporters Without Borders website

September 18th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Press freedom and ethics

RSF reports that access to its main website has again been blocked within China. The site had been made accessible a week before the start of the Olympic Games.

Tags: , , ,

Similar posts:

Online Journalism in China: Can the Olympics change the Chinese media?

August 12th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

Freelance journalist Dave Green reports for Journalism.co.uk from Beijing:

With the Olympic Games under way in Beijing, the political controversies surrounding the competition have taken a backseat while the world’s elite athletes grab the headlines.

There is a mood of optimism here that is difficult to define and a sense on the ground that the opening ceremony was a defining moment in history, one which it can be hoped will give China the confidence to move forward with the openness to question its past and, perhaps, admit to some mistakes.

Yet old media habits die hard: even foreign China Daily columnist Brendan John Worrell‘s assessment of the investment in “vital infrastructure” that has contributed to one of the most remarkable urban facelifts in history ignores the fact that many people have had their homes destroyed or walls constructed around their unsightly communities in the process.

Worrell conveniently ignores the protests in Tiananmen Square – perhaps unsurprising as the women marching against enforced relocations were given no coverage in the commercial press here – but he does go on to make a good point about China’s need to address “new pressing goals.”

Over on the country’s newsdesks, it took the influence of foreign editors to ensure the reporting of a US tourist’s murder received due prominence on the front pages and was not buried. Other coverage did not benefit from the same influence: the Xinhua News Agency’s report of five Tibet protesters detained in Tiananmen Square on the same day was tacked onto the bottom of the same reports of the tourist attack.

Perhaps the sheer insanity of protesting against repression in Tibet can justifiably be likened to that of stabbing three people and then committing suicide? Or perhaps it’s just because searching for the article online using the terms ‘Tibet’ and ‘protest’ will garner no references at all.

As Western eyes begin to adjust to the dark fact that the overwhelming security presence in Beijing may well be a necessary precaution given the attacks in the western Xinjiang Province, the media here is celebrating the mobilization of around 400,000 street-level forces. Yet you can’t help but feel that relishing the deployment of a 70,000–strong army of grandma vigilantes, as China Daily does, is a bridge too far.

The China Daily piece strikes an uneasy tone that veers between sinister and depreciating:

“Mind the suspicious strangers. You see one smoking guy over there is glancing this way and that, watch him, and report to the police station immediately once something is wrong,” it quotes 65-year-old Sun Li as saying.

“[C]atching bad guys is a policeman’s job but we’re here to help out and drink more water to prevent us fainting in this sunshine,” it concludes.

There are more serious issues to be resolved, in particular protests by the International Federation of Journalists over the constant presence of plainclothes police in the capital allegedly monitoring journalists, and more demonstrations will surely follow.

But, as Beijing’s media and its people feel the push and pull of global forces, it is safe to say that progress of a sort is being made. The key question remains what will happen after the circus leaves town, and will there will be enough residual pressure to keep the concessions that have already been made in place?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

© Mousetrap Media Ltd. Theme: modified version of Statement