Tag Archives: press freedom

#wef11: ‘News industry is in the vortex of a fast changing world’

Newspapers are “in a vortex of a fast changing world”, the new president of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers Jacob Mathew, who was elected in April, said today (Thursday, 13 October) as he opened the World Editors Forum in Vienna.

His speech focused on calling for greater press freedom and new business ideas. “Soaring costs are a challenge that we should meet with innovation”, he said.

He also touched on the issue of ethics in relation to the UK phone-hacking scandal, calling for self-regulation of the press to be maintained. The print media enjoys the highest credibility, he said, and while there have been calls for new legislation it was important to note that “increased government regulation is not the answer”.

The media would be better governed by a self regulatory mechanism which holds its journalists to account, he added.

Mathew also called on print publishers to join together in the battle to protect intellectual property rights.

It is time that the print publishers get together to strategize to prevent others from freeloading on their content. We need to monetise and not lose out.

Our industry is in the vortex of a fast changing world. The challenges and the opportunities are greater than ever before.

Follow the #wef11 hashtag on Twitter and @journalism_live for updates from the World Editors Forum in Vienna over the next few days.

BBC news chief calls for pressure on Iran after threats to journalists’ families

The director of BBC Global News, Peter Horrocks, has called on the government to “take all necessary means” to deter the Iranian government from attempts to “undermine free media” in Iran.

Writing on the BBC Editors’ blog, Horrocks says that the families of UK-based Iranian journalists working for the BBC have been harassed, arrested and threatened in Iran in order to encourage their relatives to stop working for the corporation.

The article states:

Iranian police and officials have been arresting, questioning and intimidating the relatives of BBC staff. We believe that the relatives and friends of around 10 BBC staff have been treated this way.

Last month a group of filmakers were arrested in Iran. Contrary to reports on state TV in Iran, they where not members of staff,  but the BBC Persian channel had bought the rights to their films and they are therefore “paying the price for an indirect connection to the BBC”, according to Horrocks’ post.

These actions and threats against the BBC have been accompanied by a dramatic increase in anti-BBC rhetoric. Iranian officials have claimed that BBC staff are employees of MI6, that named staff have been involved in crimes, including sexual crimes, and that BBC Persian is inciting designated terror groups to attack Iran.

Whilst these claims are clearly absurd, the intensity of language magnifies the fears of BBC staff for their family and friends back in Iran. Given the vulnerability of those family members we have thought hard about drawing attention to this harassment. But this public statement has the full support of all staff whose families have been intimidated.

In the statement Horrocks calls on the government for assistance.

The BBC calls on the Iranian government to repudiate the actions of its officials. And we request the British and other governments take all necessary means to deter the Iranian government from all these attempts to undermine free media.

Guardian: How Luke Harding became the reporter Russia hated

The Guardian’s former Moscow correspondent Luke Harding has a lively piece up on his time as the city’s harassed-western-journalist-in-chief.

Ahead of the publication of a book by Harding on his quarrels with Russia’s security forces, he describes being intimidated and having his flat regularly broken into, and his deportation and Russia’s u-turn in letting him back in.

There could be no doubt: someone had broken into my flat. Three months after arriving in Russia as the Guardian’s new Moscow bureau chief, I returned home late from a dinner party. Everything appeared normal. Children’s clothes lying in the corridor, books piled horizontally in the living room, the comforting debris of family life. And then I saw it. The window of my son’s bedroom was wide open…

Read the full article on Guardian.co.uk at this link.

New York Times: No Justice for Anna Politkovskaya

Image by openDemocracy on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Yesterday’s New York Times editorial was devoted to the case of murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Politkovskaya, who became known for her fearless investigative reporting of social issues in Russia and human rights abuses in Chechnya, was killed in her apartment building in 2006.

Five years on, no one has been convicted of her murder.

From the New York Times editorial:

At the time of her murder, Vladimir Putin, who is now the prime minister but was the president then, dismissed her journalism as “insignificant” and said that nobody “currently in office” could possibly have organized a crime that, he said, was committed “to create a wave of anti-Russian feeling.” To many Russians, that sounded like orders from the top that police or judges or prosecutors should take care not to accuse anyone in power.

Read the full article

Read Journalism.co.uk’s coverage of the case


BBC: Detained reporter is ‘physically and psychologically frail’

The BBC reported late yesterday that Urunboy Usmonov, its Central Asian Service journalist being held in Tajikistan, is physically and psychologically frail, according to a colleague who managed to visit him in prison.

Hamid Ismailov, from the BBC Central Asian service, said he was “horrified” to see Urunboy Usmonov in a detention centre in the northern city of Khujand.

According to the BBC, which reported Usmonov’s detention earlier this month, the reporter has been charged with association with Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, allegations which the broadcaster claims are “unfounded”.

Last week BBC journalists held a vigil to demand his release.

Related content:

BBC reiterates appeal for release of detained journalist

Living in limbo: Almost 70 journalists exiled in past year says CPJ

Journalists dealths in Pakistan prompt calls for urgent safety measures

Index on Censorship: Russian journalist defeats libel claim

A Russian journalist, who was placed into an induced coma after being beaten in Moscow last year, has defeated a libel claim against him after speculating on the identity of his attackers, according to Index on Censorship.

Kommersant’s political correspondent Oleg Kashin spent five days in a coma after he was attacked outside his apartment in November.

According to Index, a Moscow court ruled in favour of Kashin as it could not be proven that accusations were made as factual statements.

The attack itself sparked an open letter from 26 media outlets and journalists calling on the president to ensure greater protections for journalists, while the Committee to Protect Journalists‘ executive director also gave a statement condemning the attack and calling for action.

Related content:

Living in limbo: Almost 70 journalists exiled in past year says CPJ

Iraq tops impunity index for fourth time over unsolved journalist killings

Austrian journalist fights to uncover political advertising spend


Reporters Without Borders: Life sentence for Bahraini blogger

A Bahraini blogger has been handed a life sentence, another has received 15 years in prison, according to Reporters Without Borders.

The two were among 21 activists to be accused of belonging to terrorist organisations and trying to overthrow the government, the pressure group says on its site.

Blogger Abduljalil Al-Singace was handed a life sentence; Ali Abdulemam, who was tried in absentia, was given 15 years, Global Voices, an international bloggers network Abdulemam contributes to, also reports on the sentencing.

“The only crime committed by Abdulemam and Al-Singace was freely expressing opinions contrary to those of the government,” Reporters Without Borders said in its post. “These sentences, handed down at the end of trial that flouted defence rights, are typical of the intransigence that the authorities have been showing towards those identified as government opponents, who have borne the full brunt of their repression. The international community must call the government to account on its strategy of stifling all dissent.”

Singace was rearrested on 16 March after being held from September to February. He was previously arrested in 2009 for allegedly trying to destabilise the government because of articles posted on his blog.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Abdulemam is regarded as one of Bahrain’s internet pioneers and is an active member of Bahrain Online, a pro-democracy forum that gets more than 100,000 visitors a day despite being blocked within Bahrain. He was also detained from September to February but avoided being rearrested and has been in hiding for several months.

Related content:

Press Association photographer shot during Belfast riots

Guardian journalist beaten in Pakistan

Living in Limbo: Almost 70 journalists exiled in past year says CPJ

BBC and CPJ: Mexican journalist, wife and son shot dead

It was widely reported late yesterday that Mexican journalist Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco had been shot dead along with his wife and son after his house was entered by gunmen.

BBC News this morning claimed authorities had not yet determined a motive for the murders which they called a “cowardly” attack.

Mr Lopez Velasco, 55, wrote for the daily newspaper Notiver, where he was also an editor. His columns focussed on crime, drug trafficking and political corruption. In its coverage, Notiver called for a swift and transparent investigation to find those guilty of the three killings.

The Committee to Protect Journalists’ senior program coordinator for the Americas Carlos Lauría said the organisation was “shocked” by the killings and called on the authorities to fully investigate and effectively prosecute those responsible.

The Mexican government must put an end to this endless wave of violence that is eroding the democratic system.

A CPJ report on the killings added that drug-related violence has made Mexico one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press, with 13 Mexican journalists, including López, killed since the beginning of 2010. According to CPJ’s research at least three of those were known to be in direct reprisal for their work.

Related content:

Living in Limbo: Almost 70 journalists exiled in past year says CPJ

Iraq tops impunity index for fourth time over unsolved journalist killings

Mexican news outlets sign crime coverage pact

You lose your freedom whether you’re a journalist or not – reporting Mexico’s drug wars

Index: Polish journalist faces four years in prison for ‘insulting the president’ of Belarus

Andrey Pochobut, a correspondent for the Polish newspaper GazetaWyborcza, faces a four-year prison sentence for defamation and “insulting the president” of Belarus, according to report from Index on Censorship.

Pochobut’s trial began yesterday but journalists and family members are excluded from proceedings.

Index voices serious concerns over whether Pochobut will receive a fair trial.

If found guilty, Pochobut would be the fourth journalist sent to prison on a charge of “insulting the president” if he is found guilty.

Full report on Index on Censorship at this link.

Reporters Without Borders: Journalist killed in Brazil on World Press Freedom day

Press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports that a journalist, Valério Nascimento, was shot and killed in Brazil on Tuesday. The day of the shooting was also the day the world shone a light on the dangers and issues facing journalists across the world, for World Press Freedom day.

“Nascimento’s murder, which took place on World Press Freedom Day, is a reminder that Brazil is still a dangerous country for journalists despite recent legislative progress and efforts to combat impunity,” Reporters Without Borders said. “He is the second journalist to have been gunned down this year while a third journalist, a blogger, only just survived a murder attempt.”

A motive of the shooting is not yet known, RSF added, urging investigators of the case to “carefully examine the possibility that he was killed in connection with his work as a journalist”.

See the full report here…