The US government can monitor journalists under a foreign intelligence law that allows invasive spying and operates outside the traditional court system, according to newly released documents. Targeting members of the press under the law, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, requires approval from the Justice Department’s highest-ranking officials, the documents show. In two 2015 memos for the FBI, the attorney general spells out “procedures for processing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications targeting known media entities or known members of the media.” The documents were turned over by the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy to the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Knight First Amendment Institute as part of an ongoing lawsuit seeking the Trump administration’s rules for when and how the government can spy on journalists, including during leak investigations.
Source: The Intercept
One of the leading investigative journalism events -- the European Investigative Journalism Conference (aka Dataharvest) -- is going independent, breaking off from its long-time parent organization, GIJN-member Journalismfund.eu. The decision of the Journalismfund board will allow the fund "to focus more on its core activities, in particular acting as an intermediary body to fund independent, high value, cross-border journalism," according to a September 18 press release. At the same time, the move will free up the EIJC to expand its growing conference, which this year drew a record 470 participants from 52 countries. Said Journalismfund Managing Director Ides Debruyne: “The seed has been planted. Now it’s time to harvest.“
Nearly one-third of female journalists surveyed considered leaving the profession due to online attacks and threats. That’s according to “Attacks and Harassment: The Impact on Female Journalists and Their Reporting,” which was released by the International Women’s Media Foundation and TrollBusters last week. Researchers also found that 70 percent of the women surveyed experienced more than one type of harassment, threat or attack, while 52 percent of respondents have experienced an offense in the past year. Against a global backdrop that has changed significantly in the past five years both politically and digitally, the report describes how different actors are using physical and social media strategies against women journalists to intimidate, sow disinformation, discredit the journalist and the news media and create significant professional harm.
Seventy years after the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has formed of a panel of 25 prominent figures -- including Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, Nobel economics laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa and Nigerian human rights lawyer Hauwa Ibrahim -- to draft an International Declaration on Information and Democracy. The panel is being created at a time when “the crisis of trust in democracies and the growing influence of despotic regimes pose a major threat to freedoms, civil harmony and peace,” the co-chairs wrote.
A new manual “Journalism, 'Fake News' and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training” was released by UNESCO for practicing journalists as well as those who teach journalism. Written by experts in the fight against disinformation, the handbook explores the nature of journalism with modules on why trust matters; thinking critically about how digital technology and social platforms are conduits of the information disorder; fighting back against disinformation and misinformation through media and information literacy; fact-checking 101; social media verification and combating online abuse.
In a case watched worldwide, a Myanmar court on Monday sentenced two Reuters correspondents to seven years in prison for violating that country's archaic Official Secrets Act. The two men, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were detained in December 2017 while investigating the mass killing of a Rohingya villagers. The case has been widely denounced as harassment by press freedom groups and the UN. "The United Nations has consistently called for the release of the Reuters journalists and urged the authorities to respect their right to pursue freedom of expression and information," said Knut Ostby, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar.