Monthly Archives: September 2013

Freedom on the Internet: New Freedom House Report out Oct. 3

Freedom House is releasing the fourth edition of its Freedom on the Net report, which rates internet access, censorship, and user rights in 60 countries around the world and assesses key trends in freedom of digital media.

WATCH LIVE and follow the discussion using hashtag #FOTN2013


Freedom on the Net 2013: Internet Freedom in Decline, But Activists Fight Back

 Thursday, October 3, 2013

8:30am: Continental Breakfast

9:00am – 10:30am: Program


1101 New York Avenue Northwest (Corner of 12th and Eye Street)

2nd Floor

Washington, DC 20005

 Freedom House is releasing the fourth edition of its Freedom on the Net report, which rates internet access, censorship, and user rights in sixty countries around the world and assesses key trends in freedom of digital media.

 Remarks By:

 Senator Sherrod Brown

U.S. Senator (D-OH)

Ambassador Gudmundur A. Stefansson

Ambassador of Iceland to the United States

Presentation of Key Report Findings By:

Ms. Sanja Kelly

Project Director of Freedom on the Net, Freedom House

Panel Discussion Featuring:

Ms. Dalia Haj-Omar

Sudanese activist and member of the Girifna, pro-democracy movement

Mr. Ross LaJeunesse

Global Head of Free Expression and International Relations, Google

Moderated By:

Mr. Peter Cook

Chief Washington Correspondent, Bloomberg

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Filed under Censorship, Freedom of access, Freedom of Information, International News Coverage, Press Freedom

China’s use of “online rumor mongering” catching flack

Evan as the leadership in China tries to use the law to make their rule look legitimate, they keep stepping on their collective crank.

The law against rumor mongering — that is to mean anything the government has not authorized for release — is now getting grief from the Chinese people.

Check out this latest piece:

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

Xinhua boss: Damn free Western media! They are trying to undermine China with facts

It’s not surprising to see that the chief of the official Chinese news agency sees independent and balanced reporting about China as something to be feared.

The latest “outrage” against China as seen by Li Congjun, president of Xinhua, are reports of how China’s economy is slowing down and how top cadres are making financial killings thanks to their government positions.

Of course, to the leadership in Beijing any criticism — or straight reporting — is seen as an attack on China (and all Chinese in the world). The reporting of Western reporters is not seen as a way to get information to people so they can make an informed decision about what is going on, but rather as a campaign to destroy China.

You see, for the Chinese leadership, the media are supposed to put forward the Party line so the people will understand the “right” way to think about issues.

Reuters reports Beijing is getting nervous about too much unfiltered information and has issued directives to deal with it:

China’s ruling Communist Party has in recent weeks been tightening controls over the Internet and reminding state media of its responsibility to promote a “correct political direction”, as President Xi Jinping dashes hopes his administration will embark on political reforms.

Xinhua boss Li Congjun continued on that theme in complaining about the Western media in a Xinhua column:

“Some hostile Western forces and media do not want to see a prospering socialist China and target the spear of Westernization, separation and ‘color revolution’ at China.”

To counter all this negative news, the Chinese government has been on a buying spree to gain access to Western media outlets.

China has poured money into trying to get its voice heard internationally, including English-language television news channels, but they are still widely regarded in Western countries as heavily slanted towards the Chinese government.

The CCTV channel on US cable is clearly a propaganda channel posing as a news organization. Likewise, the English-language version of People’s Daily, while trying to push itself as a “real” newspaper, is really nothing more than an overly long press release for the Chinese government.

And there is always the problem of social media.

Beijing has been doing the best it can to control it, but finding the task harder and harder each day. The party leadership know that this is the area where the war for the hearts and minds of the Chinese people will be won or lost. Li said it plainly:

“If we cannot effectively rule new media, the ground will be taken by others, which will pose challenges to our dominant role in leading public opinion.”

Of course, Chinese netizens have jumped on the case.

China Digital Times reports:

Li’s warning recalls a controversial commentary in the overseas edition of People’s Daily last year, in which Yuan Peng argued that the U.S. would exploit “‘rights lawyers,’ underground religion, dissidents, internet leaders and disadvantaged social groups” to undermine China. Netizens quickly dubbed these groups “The New Five Black Categories,” referring to the original Five Black Categories of the Cultural Revolution era.


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Filed under Censorship, China, International News Coverage, Press Freedom

SPJ considers overdue update to Code of Ethics

It is always good to have a discussion of how to word basic rules of journalism — including what it means to be ethical.

The SPJ Code has been translated into a number of languages and has proved to be a powerful guide for journalists around the world who are trying to improve the quality of journalism in their home countries. I have seen journalists and news organizations in the Dominican Republic, China and Hong Kong use the SPJ Code as the basis for their own codes. (That means they were dumping the weak or non-existent codes in their area.)

The Buttry Diary

I’m pleased that the Society of Professional Journalists is considering an update to its Code of Ethics.

The SPJ Code of Ethics has guided journalists for decades, but hasn’t been updated since 1996. I called for an update in a blog post nearly three years ago, then in a follow-up cover story for Quill magazine and discussed the need for an update in an #spjchat Twitter chat. I applaud new SPJ President David Cullier for calling on the Ethics Committee to consider an update.

In a discussion Sunday at the Excellence in Journalism conference, SPJ Ethics Chair Kevin Smith and some other Ethics Committee members acknowledged a need for at least some fine-tuning, though some said they did not see the need for heavy revisions.

I won’t belabor here the points I’ve made before, but I’ll summarize briefly. The journalism landscape has changed dramatically since 1996 and I…

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