Monthly Archives: January 2010

IFJ Report Lists China’s Secret Bans on Media Reporting

The International Federation of Journalists is releasing its annual report on China today at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong.

PDF Version.

Banned topic include the expected any discussion of the Tiananmen Square massacre but also include any public protests against the government and photos of actresses topless on a beach.

In a statement released with the document IFJ General Secreatry Aidan White said:

“We further call on the international community to take a principled stand to oppose all forms of restrictions on the rights of journalists to do their work in China, including the steady stream of official bans as well as new rules in 2009 which make it virtually impossible for local journalists who work in traditional or online media to receive the accreditation they need in order to conduct their profession.”

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Update: Medical flights from Haiti to the States

The story continues that flights have been halted and no one is saying why.

US Halts Airlifts Of Haiti Patients, Citing Space

And I heard this morning on NPR that the flights were not stopped. According to this story, Miami authorities (who?) asked that victims from Haiti be sent elsewhere to allow the Miami hospitals enough space to handle the crowd that will be attending the Super Bowl.

I still wonder why this issue and this story is coming out now. Why weren’t local reporters looking at the flood of people from Haiti coming into local hospitals?

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Filed under Connections, International News Coverage, Story Ideas

Arab League criticizes US resolution on Arab TV

Thanks to Marc Lynch for writing about a meeting of the information ministers of Arab League countries rejecting a Congressional resolution calling for sanctions against Arab satellite television stations that allegedly incite terrorism or promote anti-Americanism.

Arabs reject U.S. crackdown on Arab satellite TV

It would be pretty pathetic that the Arab League — the Arab League!! — is taking a stronger position in favor of media freedoms than the U.S. Congress. But don’t worry — leading Arab states still seem quite keen to find their own Arab ways to repress and control the media.

The Congressional resolution (H.R.2278), which passed 395-3 in December (and hopefully will die in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) is a perfect example of mindless grandstanding which pleases domestic audiences while hurting American interests in the Arab world.

The resolution complains of anti-American incitement on Arab TV, specifically mentioning Hezbollah’s al-Manar, Hamas’s al-Aqsa, and the Iraqi al-Zawra. It calls for the Obama administration to produce a country-by-country list of Arab TV stations which incite violence and to urge official and private sanctions against those deemed to be carrying out such incitement. Who in the U.S. Congress is going to speak out or vote against complaining about al-Manar or al-Aqsa?

I have no great love for most of the Arab media or their tactics. The countries complaining about the U.S. action are hardly bastions of liberal media policies.

That said, it is a sad state of affairs that a brand of the U.S. government should advocate establishing some sort of punishment for news organizations that are just doing their jobs. Reporting the news is not supporting terrorism.

Perhaps instead of lashing out with statements like this, the U.S. Congress might want to think about providing more money for organizations that work to improve the quality of journalism around the world. (Think about the National Endowment for Democracy for one.) It can also provide more money to host more foreign journalists through embassy driven programs. And expanding the Fulbright program wouldn’t hurt.

But words are cheap and serious action takes time, money and thinking.

Other coverage of this issue:
Radio Netherlands: Arab ministers slam US congress satellite decision

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Filed under Censorship, Connections, Freedom of Information, Middle East

Global-Local – Dispute on who pays stops medical treatment for Haitians in USA

The New York Times has a piece by Shaila Dewan that describes the chaos that takes place during and following a major natural disaster. In this case, it is who pays for the medical treatment in the U.S. of the Haitians hurt in the recent earthquake.

Cost Dispute Halts Airlift of Injured Haiti Quake Victims

Let’s assume that nowhere in the emergency planning was there a provision for treatment of a large number of wounded from a foreign natural disaster. And I can understand this. The plan probably calls for all treatment to take place on hospital ships.

But once that first planeload of wounded started heading for the States, don’t you think somewhere in the disaster relief system someone would have asked who was paying for the care?

From the side of journalism, where were the local reporters?

Think about it.

Victims from an event that dominated the world’s news for a week were sent to U.S. hospitals. Local reporters could have had stories about the earthquake and local contributions to the relief effort without having to fly to Haiti. Even it was just a “feel good” story about what the local community is doing to help.

Did such stories happen? I didn’t see any but then not every small town paper is fully on the Internet.

But if you think about it, what would one of the first questions have been in this story? How about: “Who is paying for this?”

Local reporters could have nailed down this issue and could have had the relief agencies looking more closely at this issue BEFORE the stream of wounded became a flood. This story could have been part of the larger issue of disaster relief while it was taking place and it would not require anyone traveling.

Now, halting the humanitarian flights IS the story. It has the potential to push out the various reconstruction plans and projects.

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Filed under International News Coverage, Story Ideas

Map of censorship

The folks at Boing-Boing call this a world map, but it is really just a map of China.

Still, it is pretty cool. And a good graphic that displays the words and phrases the Great Firewall of China blocks.

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Venezuela police fire on students protesting TV station closing

Police fired on students in Venezuela Monday as they demonstrated against the government closing of RCTV, killing one. Nine police officers were also injured.

Local media reports say a pro-Chavez 15-year-old was killed in Merida.

Meanwhile, in Caracas, police used teargas to disperse a crowd of students also opposing the shutdown of the popular cable television station.

RCTV was ordered closed last week because it did not broadcast a Chavez speech in its entirety or run the national anthem often enough.

Criticism of the increased harassment and persecution of news organizations not bowing to the whims of the government are increasing. Reporters without Borders condemned the Venezuelan government’s “allergic reaction” to dissident media voices. Even the Organization of American States weighed in, calling the move regretful. (I guess that is about as strong as diplomats get.)

None of this should be a surprise. Chavez has been moving steadily taking away basic rights and freedoms while centralizing more and more power in his hands.

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Filed under Censorship, Press Freedom, South America

Anti-Chavez TV channel dropped in Venezuela

Once again the government of Hugo Chavez is showing how much it despises any form of criticism. (Anti-Chavez TV channel dropped in Venezuela)

Of course what it considers criticism is anything that is not in 100 percent lockstep with Chavez’s views.

So RCTV did not broadcast the entirety of a Chavez speech or run the national anthem. I guess that is enough to violate the law and be unpatriotic at the same time.

I can think of several U.S. conservatives who would love to have an “air the national anthem” requirement in the U.S. broadcast laws. And (right now) just as many liberals who would love to have a “run all the president’s speeches” requirement.

Fortunately we have the First Amendment and people willing to stand up and defend it.

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Filed under Censorship, Harassment, South America