Monthly Archives: September 2009

Morton Dean: Downward spiral in foreign reporting

Nice write up about Morton Dean and the sorry state of international reporting.

Morton Dean: TV News “Spiraling Down Into a Deep, Dark Ravine”

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Filed under International News Coverage

Pew Report: Foreign affairs dominates coverage

Ordinarily many of us would be happy to hear that foreign affairs’ issues dominated the news cycle.

But let’s look at what the Pew Research Center for the Project for Excellence in Journalism reported:

PEJ News Coverage Index: September 21-27, 2009

For a Change, Foreign Policy Drives the News

Let’s look at what is covered.

The opening of the United Nations’ General Assembly dominated the news reports last week.

Why? I would bet largely because  President Obama made his first U.N. speech.

But there were also the leaders from Libya and Iran. Definately newsworthy.

The next international item was Afghanistan.

No surprise there.

And then Iran.

Again. No surprise there.

In the case of Afghanistan, the issue is the war. And war is a regular feature of international news.

In the case of Iran, the nuclear and missile crises were the key points. (And it doesn’ t hurt to have a president who says goofy things to get some ink.)

As far as the United Nations is concerned, the stories that came out hardly had anything to do with the major issues the U.N. will be facing nor with the work being done in the body. It was all about the speeches of a handful of colorful characters.

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Filed under International News Coverage

Mexican journalism still deadly profession

Mexican journalists who dare to speak out against the drug cartels that seem to operate with impunity in Northern Mexico are an endangered breed.

Despite loads of money and a serious effort by the national government, local Mexican authorities all along the U.S.-Mexican border either can’t control the situation or don’t care to. (For many, they think it is the latter more than the former.)

Those that are not killed are silenced by intimidation or they flee to the United States to see asylum and safety.

One publication was bombed because the paper printed the cause of death of individuals in the obits. Too many were killed because of gang-related attacks. The cartel leaders decided this kind of “publicity” was not good.

The newspaper eventually stopped reporting any deaths.

Many of the cartels get tacit support from corrupt local government leaders. Despite efforts by the central government in Mexico City, the bribes that the drug dealers can shell out is many times the pay of law enforcement officials. So the killings continue.

The intimidation of Mexican journalists and the Mexican drug wars does not stop at the border.

Drug wars spill out into American cities.

And the latest death in the war against journalists is Norberto Miranda Madrid, Director of Radio Vision’s Web page. He was gunned down September 24 in the border town Casa Grandes, Chihuahua. He was shot execution style in his newsroom.

Earlier report from the Knight Center for Journalism.

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Filed under Harassment, Killings

CBS to team with GlobalPost

At a time when more events around the world affect the everyday lives of Americans, just about all U.S. media outlets are cutting back on their foreign coverage.

The bean counters say it is too expensive and besides, no one cares. (Surveys tell them that.)

Maybe the issue is with reduced staff the stories are not as relevant or as interesting. So people tune out. CNN still gets some pretty impressive numbers for its coverage and even that is not as great as it once was.

After being depressed about the lack of importance most U.S. media put on international coverage, I was happy to see that CBS and GlobalPost had reached an agreement to get more international reporting done for main stream media.

GlobalPost is a web-based news operation founded by former foreign correspondent Charles M. Sennott. The organization depends on stringers around the world and a full-time staff in Boston to bring news that otherwise is missedby the mainstream media.

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Filed under Connections

Analysis of cyber attacks on foreign journalists in China

Thanks to Tom Crampton in Hong Kong for posting this on his web site.

A while back reports came out that foreign correspondents in China were being attacked with malware.

The report by Malware Lab on the PDF attachment attack (Targeted Malware Attack on Foreign Correspondent’s based in China) points out a few interesting points:

The “Pam Bourdon” emails on Monday targeted Chinese news assistants, whose names often do not appear on news reports and who must be hired through an agency that reports to the Foreign Ministry.

Considering that the contact information of these assistants was not publicly known, but was known to China’s Foreign Ministry, an element of suspicion is raised concerning the involvement of the latter. However, there are alternative explanations for how the attackers were able to assemble the list of contacts. These attackers have been actively compromising targets since at least 2007, and likely compile lists of new targets from information acquired through previous exploits. In fact, the accuracy of the email used in this case, and the malicious attachment, suggest that the attackers leveraged information stolen from previously compromised computers.

There is no evidence that directly implicates the government of China in these attacks.

However, both the timing and targets of the attack do raise questions. With the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic if China fast approaching, it is difficult to dismiss attacks on high profile media targets such as Reuters, the Straits Times, Dow Jones, Agence France Presse, and Ansa as random events. These organizations were targeted directly, but the motivation of the attackers remains unknown. Furthermore, the use of compromised servers at the National Central University of Taiwan and the Taiwan Academic Network will no doubt add to an already tense relationship between China and Taiwan.

Tracking back the DNS shows the malware writers used a number of sites from Taiwan to Korea to California, a standard tactic of such attacks.

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Filed under China, Harassment

Things just getting worse in Honduras

The coup-government in Honduras announced more restrictions on political and civil liberties.

In a return to the bad of days of the generals and landed aristocracy the government that ousted Chavez wannabe suspended the constitution Sunday, Sept. 27.

Er, don’t the coup leaders say they were defending the constitution by getting rid of Zelaya? (See statement by U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, R-SC.)

Among those rights being affected is, of course, the free media.

The media have already been under attack by the de-facto government. Now, that harassment has been codified.

And one thing I don’t understand…

NPR is usually pretty good about covering this kind of thing. Yet I heard it first on BBC. And then a visit to the NPR website shows nothing of this.

The only mention this morning from NPR was from Buena Aires  about a statement Brazilian president Lula made at an island off Venezuela about the situation in the Brazilian embassy where Zelaya is holed up. Nothing about the suspension of the constitution.

And nothing up front on the web page.

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Filed under Harassment, Honduras, Press Freedom

No good news in Honduras yet

The various human rights and journalism rights groups have been keeping up with the continuing situation in Honduras.

Here are the latest reports:

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Filed under Honduras, Press Freedom