Tag Archives: Press Freedom

Pro-Beijing Forces Block Pro-Democracy Paper in Hong Kong

I am no big fan of Apple Daily in Hong Kong, other than for its strident support of democracy and press freedom.

The best description I have seen for Apple Daily comes from the HuffPost report by Matt Sheehan: “Apple Daily is known for its defiant pro-democracy positions, shrill and sensational reporting style, and occasionally lax standards for fact-checking.”

Saying “occassional” is bieng kind, but its pro-democracy stance cannot be questioned. It is real and it is strong.

Now, because of its support for the student demonstrators in Hong Kong, Apple Daily is facing blockades by pro-Beijing crowds.

The latest tactic is for the pro-Beijing demonstrators to sit down in front of the Apple Daily delivery trucks, causing the paper to be late on the streets.

People in the anti-Apple Daily say they are only doing what the pro-democracy demonstrators are doing. And then they toss in how the pro-democracy crowd is really an American plot to undermine China and all the students are traitors.

The funniest response came when an Apple Daily reporter came out to interview the demonstrators. She asked if the demonstrator was being paid to be there. He responded that of course he was but so what? Wasn’t the Apple Daily paying the reporter to be there as well?

Kinda misses the point, doesn’t he?

Here is the HuffPost report on the confrontation at Apple Daily: Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Newspaper Under Siege

Leave a comment

Filed under China

Case against licensing journalists

In the United States the First Amendment protects journalists from being “banned” by government edict — or by any type of edict for that matter.

Journalists in other countries, however, are not so lucky. The latest example of why this is a bad idea comes out of Honduras.

Seems commentator Julio Ernesto Alvarado of Globo TV has been hit with a 16-month ban on “doing journalism” by the Penal Appeals Court in Tegucigalpa.

Now, I know the Globo people. They are serious anti-government types — unless the government is the leftist Libre party. The commentators are passionate in their denunciations of the ruling party. And even sometimes go over the edge of good taste.

But that all pales in the outrage that a government agency can tell a person he/she cannot be a journalist.

Whenever governments get involved, all sorts of bad things have the potential to happen. And Mr. Alvarado is seeing the results.

The issue stems from episodes of Alvarado’s show that discussed corruption in the national university. A dean was accused of corruption by teachers in the school on the show. The dean filed charges of defamation of character against Alvarado and the teachers and lost.

Under appeal the dean won , even though the court operated under the assumption that the dean had indeed engaged in corrupt practices.

With the dean’s victory came the ban on Alvarado from doing journalism.

So we have a cowonurt deciding who can be a journalist. Not a good idea.

And we have a system where truth is not an absolute defense for libel and defamation. (As it is in the States.)

In addition to the court ruling Alvarado has been receiving threats that — according to Globo — have not been taken seriously by the government. (On this point, I have serious questions. Some of the leadership brought in under the new government take protection of journalists VERY seriously.)

What is clear, however, that free and independent journalism is threatened by any law or system that allows a government agency of any type to determine who can be a journalist. Likewise, it is a danger when a court or other government entity can ban someone from “doing journalism.” And it is a danger when any private group — such as a journalism association — has the power to determine who can “do journalism.”

The bottom line is that the way to fight bad journalism is with more (and better) journalism, not by denying anyone who wants to from entering the fray.

Read more about the Alvarado case at PEN: Honduras: PEN member barred from journalism after covering corruption in state university

Leave a comment

Filed under Honduras, Press Freedom

25 years since Tiananmen Square demonstrations

The Chinese government is pulling out all the stops to make sure the official party line on the Tiananmen Square killings is the only one heard in China.

Besides the usual heavy-handed directives from Beijing to all media outlets on what to say and what not to say, the government has also moved against the Internet community in China, known as Netizens.

So, of course, anyone making any comments that challenge the official line gets in trouble: Professor’s Microblog Axed After Tiananmen Comment

For many, it is difficult remembering how things were 25 years ago. China Digital Times is running a series of articles and observations from that turbulent period in modern Chinese history

And while the rest of the world will be looking back at what happened then, the government leaders will just keep on doing “business as usual” rather than deal with the wound created 25 years ago.

And I should add that the ONLY place under Beijing rule that is allowed to openly discuss what happened at Tiananmen Square and is able to have demonstrations calling for a full investigation into what happened is Hong Kong.

And here is the famous “Tank Man” who stood up to the Chinese tanks heading to the square.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Censorship, China, Freedom of Information, Harassment, International News Coverage, Press Freedom

TOR: Software that helps keep journalists safe

TOR is a piece of software that was developed by the US Navy and then got support for further improvements and distribution by the Electronic Frontier, Google and the State Department. (Here is a short video explanation at MIT.) 

The value of TOR is that its encrypts data that allows human rights activists and journalists to get around the censorship and monitoring of dictatorships. It is such a robust piece of encryption software that even the NSA has been unable to crack it.

IFEX interviewed  Andrew Lewman, Executive Director of the TOR Project.

Keeping writers safe online: An interview with the Tor Project

 

1 Comment

Filed under Censorship

Russia continues crackdown on freedom of expression

Russian president Vladimir V. Putin signed a new law into effect that requires bloggers to register with the government.

Russia Quietly Tightens Reins on Web with Bloggers Law 

The new law states that any blog site with more than 3,000 followers is the same as a newspaper or broadcast outlet, and thus, is required to register with the state. The law also bans anonymous bloggers.

It is this last point that has many critics of the Putin government troubled. Russia is already in the NOT FREE category by Freedom House (and other freedom of expression organizations.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Censorship, Press Freedom

Censorship for hire: China’s corruption hits the Internet

Sometimes the government officials in China — from the national to the local levels — just make it too easy to find more and more reasons why censorship doesn’t work.

First, corrupt officials can use the censorship rules to block any mention of their malfeasance;

Second,  eventually the information gets out.

And so we have the fun case of the deputy chief of the Internet team at the Haikou City Public Security Department who was caught accepting bribes and got 10 years in prison. 

It seems he used his authority to censor the Internet to make sure any references to his own corrupt activities were deleted from chat rooms and blogs.

What is the Price of Press Censorship?

The fact that Chinese media don’t dare report is that in the larger context of corruption within the propaganda regime, these web police are actually insignificant. The golden goose is the propaganda department and its local branches. The propaganda department controls not just the internet, but also newspapers, television and book publishing. It has not just the power to order the deletion of web posts, but can also tell all of the media under its shadow what needs to be reported.

Moreover, the propaganda department also controls personnel issues for the vast majority of media. It can order the punishment of media staff, remove publishers or editors in chief, and even tell media to fire journalists. Many local propaganda departments even have the power to impose economic sanctions on media.

Full article

Once again many thanks to the China Media Project for bringing details of this case forward.

Leave a comment

Filed under Censorship, China, Press Freedom

Press Freedom at Lowest Point in Decade

Freedom House released its 2014 Press Freedom Report today. And the news is not good for lovers of free and independent media.

The decline was driven in part by major regression in several Middle Eastern states, including Egypt, Libya, and Jordan; marked setbacks in Turkey, Ukraine, and a number of countries in East Africa; and deterioration in the relatively open media environment of the United States.

“We see declines in media freedom on a global level, driven by governments’ efforts to control the message and punish the messenger,” said Karin Karlekar, project director of the report. “In every region of the world last year, we found both governments and private actors attacking reporters, blocking their physical access to newsworthy events, censoring content, and ordering politically motivated firings of journalists.”

A quick glance at the map makes it clear that press freedom is in danger. (FYI: Green is good! And you will notice that there is blessed little green on this map.)

You can view the panel discussion when the report was released here:

Leave a comment

Filed under Censorship, Connections, Freedom of access, Freedom of Information, Press Freedom