Monthly Archives: February 2010

Another American link to the “lawyer” for held Baptists in Haiti

Now it seems that Jorge Puello, the “lawyer” who advised the Baptist group trying to bring 33 Haitian children to the Dominican Republic, was indicted in Vermont 7 years ago but skipped to Canada.

The guy is wanted in El Salvador for trafficking in people as well.

The issue of missing, exploited and kidnapped children continues and deserves a closer look by the U.S. media. And the journalists need to understand the laws and terms involved.

Some excellent resources to start with:

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Filed under Connections, Story Ideas

New media helps freelancers and fights repression

New media — Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. — help freelancers get stories out. It also makes them more vulnerable to repression from dictatorships. And it helps publicize that repression.

Reuters reports today that the CPJ issued a new report on the increased risks to freelancers by repressive regimes.

New media can help fight repression: watchdog group

E-mail alerts, Facebook petitions and blog posts helped raise the visibility of imprisoned journalists in Iran after crackdowns on the media in the aftermath of a disputed presidential election last June, CPJ said.

That international pressure helped in the release of high-profile journalists such as Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari and freelancer Roxana Saberi.

“When you attain a critical mass, when you get the blogosphere buzzing or you get people retweeting, or you get people signing petitions and passing around information on social networking, then you get the mainstream media covering it and you can build a groundswell and you can affect governments,” Joel Simon, CPJ executive director, said at the news conference.

Rest of story.

CPJ Report: A Worldwide Survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists

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Filed under Harassment, International News Coverage

Taliban releases video of French journalists

Reuters is reporting that the two French journalists who were kidnapped in Afghanistan Dec. 30 are alive.

The Taliban kidnappers released the video of the journalists urging the French government to move faster in its negotiations with the Taliban.

The two journalists, along with their Afghan driver and translator, were seized in Kapisa province on December 30 while working on a story for France 3 television. The driver was later freed.

It had been unclear until Sunday who exactly had kidnapped the journalists, since abduction has become a lucrative business for both Afghan militants and purely criminal groups.

France 3 has asked that the two men not be named. They said they were healthy in the video, first obtained by Reuters.

“I have no idea what is happening. We have been given no information but I hope the negotiations are making progress,” one said. “Although we are being treated well, we feel the weight of the passing days and weeks.”

Rest of story

Cross posted with Journalism and the World

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Filed under Harassment, International News Coverage

Name that repressive country!

This really is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Which of these two countries, Iran or China, made the following statements:

  1. The [Western] news media are a “means used in an attempt to overthrow the state.”
  2. “How did [political unrest] come about? It was because online warfare launched by America, via YouTube video and Twitter micro-blogging, spread rumors, created splits, stirred up and sowed discord.”

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Filed under Censorship

Hong Kong journalists roughed up in Chengdu for covering court case

To no one’s surprise really, journalists trying to cover the case of Tan Zuoren in Chengdu were harassed and assaulted by local authorities.

From an incident report posted at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China site:

02/09/10 Police in Chengdu Rough Up Reporters Covering Sentencing of Sichuan Quake Activist

Hong Kong journalists attempting to cover the sentencing in Chengdu of writer/activist Tan Zuoren were hassled and shoved by police. One of the group reported:

Nine Hong Kong reporters arrived at the Chengdu courthouse around 7 a.m.
We wanted to interview the lawyer and relatives of Sichuan earthquake activist Tan Zuoren outside the courthouse, before the trial was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Around 9 a.m. police ordered us to enter the courthouse. When we refused to go, they used physical force, and shoved us into a holding room.

One reporter who was carried in was slightly injured in a scuffle.

The authorities said they wanted to check our media credentials. Around 10 a.m., after the verdict was issued, the authorities returned our credentials and released us. We went outside the courthouse and tried to interview the lawyer about the five-year prison sentence for subversion, but uniformed police kept pushing us around. They said we were violating regulations by blocking the sidewalk. Despite the disruptions, we were eventually able to complete the interviews.

At least in this case the reporters were eventually allowed to do their interviews. In previous cases, reporters seeking to interview lawyers defending dissidents were detained and then led out of town. In other cases security forces would disrupt the press scrum. And — more commonly — the reporters would be tailed by a large contingent of security forces to intimidate any potential interviewees.

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Filed under Censorship, China

What does “al Qaeda affiliate” mean?

Foreign Policy magazine has a good article by Lydia Khalil discussing what it means to be an “al Qaeda affiliate.”

Al Qaeda’s Six Degrees of Separation
When it comes to the world’s most infamous terror organization, who decides who’s in, and who’s out?

Bottom line: It is a term tossed about so much it is largely meaningless.

More often than not, Islamist extremists assign the term “al Qaeda affiliate” to themselves — regardless of whether it is true. Upstart terrorist groups, regional insurgents, and radicalized individuals embrace the name to lift their profile and gain cachet in the jihadi community. But it is not a particularly good indicator of their actual relationship to the al Qaeda organization.

Last month Defense Secretary Gates talked about how al Qaeda had formed a “syndicate” of terror groups. This does not mean that al Qaeda engineers all the activities of the individual components.

Journalists should be more careful using phrases such as “al Qaeda affiliate” or “jihadist.” Often these are easy to use but possibly misleading terms. Perhaps it is time for reporters and editors to take a second look at the use of these terms to make sure they really understand what they mean.

Journalism lives and dies by its words and credibility. Making sure we use the right descriptive words helps protect our credibility.

Cross posted to Journalism and the World.

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Filed under International News Coverage

2009 deadly year for journalists

Last year 110 journalists were killed in the line of duty, making 2009 the deadliest year in the decade, according to the latest report of the International Press Institute.

The IPI and other journalism groups noted that the last decade was also one of the deadliest for media workers.
from the

World Press Freedom Review Managing Editor Anthony Mills said: “This decade is unlike any other, because, in conflict countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan, it has seen the deliberate targeting of journalists. Such a departure has changed the face of conflict reporting, leading to less coverage and therefore a worrying vacuum in the understanding of these complex events.”

In the Americas Colombia and Mexico lead the pack for journalism killings, according to the IPI report. Colombia is the third most dangerous place in the world for journalist with 58 killings in the past 10 years. Mexico is right behind with 38 killed in the last decade.

In the past couple of years, however, Mexico has been moving up.

According to IPI reports 11 journalists were killed in Mexico last year compared to six in Colombia. (The CPJ puts the death toll at six and two respectively.) The increase in Mexican deaths is largely due to the violence associated with the growing power of the drug cartels.

There are some differences in how to count the journalism death toll. But all groups agree that 2009 was one of the worst years.

2009 death toll

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Filed under International News Coverage, Killings