Three Russians producing a documentary about mercenary forces close to the Kremlin were gunned down in the Central African Republic this week. The journalists were shot dead in an ambush while driving across the war-torn country. The news outlet they were working with said they were investigating Russian military contractors operating in the Central African Republic, where President Faustin-Archange Touadéra is looking to Russia as a provider of arms and military training amid a bloody civil war. It is not clear who killed Orkhan Dzhemal, Kirill Radchenko and Alexander Rastorguyev, who continued to pursue independent investigative reporting despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on press freedoms and in the face of violence often perpetrated against journalists.
Source: The Washington Post
According to The Intercept, Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protest. The project – code-named Dragonfly – has been underway since spring of last year. The planned move represents a dramatic shift in Google’s policy on China and will mark the first time in almost a decade that the internet giant has operated its search engine in the country. Google’s search service cannot currently be accessed by most internet users in China because it is blocked by the country’s so-called Great Firewall.
Source: The Intercept
The Google News Initiative is to working on making data easier to discover with a new search feature. Based on feedback from 30 of the world’s top data journalists, Google has identified an opportunity to improve how tabular data appears in Google Search. It works like this: news organizations that publish data in the form of tables can add additional structured data to make the dataset parts of the page easier to identify for use in relevant Search features. News organizations add the structured data to their existing html of a page, which means they still control how their tables are presented to readers.
Source: Google News Initiative
An extraordinary new study by University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Notre Dame researchers finds that the cost of U.S. municipal borrowing goes up by as much as a tenth of a percentage point following closure of a local newspaper. A key reason: “the investigative journalism gap left when a local newspaper shuts down.” According to the study, “potential lenders have greater difficulty evaluating the quality of public projects and the government officials in charge of these projects.”
Source: Nonprofit Quarterly
Later this month, Skype will be updated to include built-in call recording. Until now, Skype users have had to rely on a number of third-party apps to record calls. The new feature will be cloud-based, allowing users to access Skype call recordings across devices including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and even Linux. According to Microsoft’s Skype team, as soon as you start recording, everyone in the call will be notified that the call is being recorded and the recordings combine everyone’s video as well as any screens shared during the call.
Source: The Verge
A Syrian reporter died this week after being injured covering clashes between the Syrian army and rebel groups in Quneitra province, according to his employer and the Syrian-government run news agency Sana. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Mustafa Salamah’s death comes amid concern for at least 70 journalists trapped in Quneitra and nearby areas who could face reprisal from the Syrian government as its forces advance on the last remaining rebel strongholds in the region. The CPJ says at least 120 journalists have been killed covering the Syrian conflict, at least seven were in Syrian state prisons, and many others are missing.