Monthly Archives: November 2009

No surprise, but glad to see more reporting on Russian government control of media.

Soviet-era media control persists

From Variety 11/29/09

It’s nice to see different U.S. media outlets talking about the growing problem of how the Russian government seems to be working harder and harder to get the news organizations under its thumb.

As the article points out, there was a brief period of freedom in the 90s. That was quickly smashed.

Journalists in Russia are not only facing growing censorship of their work, they are also facing the ultimate form of censorship: death. And the government has done little to arrest, try and jail the killers.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, odds are on the side of murders of journalists in Russia. Fifty-two journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992, 32 were murdered and 32 killed with impunity.

Killers are convicted in just one in 17 slayings since 2000. Victims include acclaimed reporter Anna Politkovskaya


The issue of unsolved killings hit the media outside Russia. The CPJ prepared a special report on the topic: Anatomy of Injustice: The Unsolved Killings of Journalists in Russia

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Filed under Harassment, International News Coverage, Killings

Georgia journalists to sign Charter of Ethics 12/4

Anyone going to Tblisi this week?

Georgian journalists are signing a charter of ethics Dec. 4. They received a lot of help from European journalists in drafting the document. (Does that mean taking all of August off is now an ethical issue?)

Financing for the work came from a number of sources including the US embassy in Tblisi and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Nice to see U.S. taxpayers’ money being wisely spent.

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Filed under International News Coverage, Press Freedom

Iraqi government tries to bypass media

The leadership in Iraq is not used to the idea of free media and media criticism. So rather than deal more openly with the media it is just going straight to YouTube — and not allow any comments.

Something tells me they still don’t get this democracy/free press thing.

Iraq to counter “lies”, show successes via YouTube

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

Obama and China: Did the US media get it wrong?

Howard French, formerly of the New York Times, seems to think so.

The China Herald bog talks about French’s interview with the Columbia Journalism Review about the coverage of the U.S. president’s trip to China.

Here are the CJR reprots:

One of the complaints French had about the coverage was the lack of context:

It doesn’t give a realistic impression of what past behavior was like, diplomatically speaking, and what it achieved when we were really vocal and remonstrative; and it also doesn’t—in this critical, immediate insta-pundit analysis of what Obama achieved—it doesn’t allow for the fact that he, himself, said what he was going to do before he got on the airplane, so to what extent did his behavior actually fit the pattern of his own announced style and agenda? It’s like the press is on its own script without reference to either history or Obama’s announced intentions.

And this is surprising?

This is a constant complaint about international coverage — at least by many of us who think the rest of the world matters. Editors back home don’t seem to care. International process stories don’t sell papers or on-air ads. What is the local local local angle and stay with that.

And yet, the context of what is going on in China and in other countries is important to understand the news of today.

(First published at the blog of the SPJ International Journalism Committee)

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Filed under China, International News Coverage

Dictatorship 101: Control all means of communication

After getting burned by all those Tweets following the national elections last summer, the Iranian government is taking steps to see that they don’t lose control again.

Iran Expanding Effort to Stifle the Opposition

The government uses the usual gun-thug technique to crack the heads of the opposition. It is also setting up 6,000 military centers in elementary schools to “promote the ideals of the Islamic revolution.” And it has turned over control of land line phone systems, the Internet and mobile phone companies.

A company affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards acquired a majority share in the nation’s telecommunications monopoly this year, giving the Guards de facto control of Iran’s land lines, Internet providers and two cellphone companies. And in the spring, the Revolutionary Guards plan to open a news agency with print, photo and television elements.

The power-hungry leaders complain that the root of the country’s domestic ills are because of Western subversion, especially in the form of cultural subversion. (Damn, those Barbie dolls.)

The arguments are the same with any dictator. In China the government wants to control the message and messenger to protect social stability and fight spiritual pollution. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez wants to control the media to make sure the people are not influenced by Yankee imperialist thought and are properly schooled in Bolivarian revolutionary thought.

It really doesn’t matter what the background ideology is, the bottom line is that dictators of all stripes don’t like a free press. After all, once people start getting more than one side of a story, they might actually start thinking about changing leaders.

Maybe the Iranians will learn what the Chinese and Venezuelans are already experiencing. The harder they try to control the lines of communication, the more ridiculous they look to the world and their own people. The truth always leaks out. And in.

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Filed under Censorship, Press Freedom