Assange Hit with US Espionage Charges

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has become the first person charged under the US Espionage Act who is not a government leaker, indicted this week under 17 counts for publishing classified information. Alarmed press freedom groups warn that the action in effect criminalizes actions that investigative journalists do on a daily basis. The charges are "a direct threat to news gathering, journalists, and news organizations who do that for the public benefit," said Gabe Rottman of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union called the indictments an "extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration's attacks on journalism, and a direct assault on the First Amendment." And the Committee to Project Journalists warned that the move "strikes at the heart of the First Amendment and puts all journalists in extreme danger."

Source: Buzzfeed

Posted on: May 25, 2019

New Cross-Border Platform to Cover Democracy in Europe

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) has launched a new cross-border journalism platform called “Reporting Democracy.” Its coverage will extend from the Balkans to the Visegrad countries (Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia). The platform’s goal, according to editor Timothy Large, is “to put rigorous, fact-based journalism to work in exposing the trends and developments that will shape democracy, for better or for worse, and to look at things from a cross-border perspective.” The project is supported by ERSTE Foundation, which is the main shareholder of Austrian bank Erste Group.

Source: Balkan Insight

Posted on: May 23, 2019

Anatomy of a Killing and Caliphate Among Peabody Winners

The 78th annual Peabody Awards were given out on May 18 at a ceremony in New York, highlighting some of the best storytelling on TV, radio and the web. A number of international investigations were rewarded in the news and radio/podcast categories, including BBC Africa Eye’s “Anatomy of a Killing,” an open source investigation of a viral video that showed Cameroonian soldiers killing two women and their children; Caliphate, a New York Times podcast about the rise and fall of ISIS; and “The Plastic Problem,” a PBS NewsHour documentary about how plastic affects ecosystems worldwide. GIJN member ProPublica won a new award called the Catalyst Award for its reporting on family separation at the US/Mexico border that led the Trump administration to halt its “zero tolerance” separation policy.

Source: Peabody Awards

Posted on: May 20, 2019

New Podcasting Tool: Spotify’s Soundtrap

Soundtrap, a music-editing software company owned by Spotify, launched a new product this week that’s designed to make podcast editing easier. Soundtrap for Storytellers is a web-based podcast production tool that allows users to record, edit and master their audio. Its most impressive feature is how simple it’s supposed to make editing: podcasters can just cut words out of an automated transcript of their conversation, and the changes will be automatically reflected in the audio. Designed to function like Google Docs, it’s collaborative, letting multiple people edit a project at once.

Source: The Verge

Posted on: May 17, 2019

Reuters Reporters Freed in Myanmar

Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, are now free. The two Reuters reporters spent more than 500 days behind bars after they were convicted to seven years in prison for breaking Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act. Before their arrest, the pair had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians. Throughout their imprisonment, Reuters as well as press freedom and human rights advocates campaigned for their release. They were freed May 7 as part of a presidential amnesty for 6,520 prisoners. “I’m really happy and excited to see my family and my colleagues. I can’t wait to go to my newsroom,” Wa Lone told reporters as he left prison.

Source: Reuters

Posted on: May 7, 2019

This Year’s World Press Freedom Day Tackles Disinformation

May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day (#WPFD2019), a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom with events around the world by its sponsor UNESCO and others. The theme for this 26th edition is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.” On this occasion, UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay said: "Press freedom is the cornerstone of democratic societies. All States, all nations, are strengthened by information, debate and the exchange of opinions. At a time of growing discourse of mistrust and delegitimization of the press and journalism, it is essential that we guarantee freedom of opinion through the free exchange of ideas and information based on factual truths."

Source: UNESCO

Posted on: May 3, 2019

Warren Buffet: Most Papers Are Toast

Famed investment guru Warren Buffet, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has investments in the daily press, says that most newspapers today are “toast.” The decline of advertising has transformed the newspaper industry “from monopoly to franchise to competitive,” the billionaire told Yahoo Finance, and now to "toast... The world has changed hugely.” By 2016, ad revenue for US newspapers was nearly a third of what it was just a decade before, according to the Pew Research Center. Not all papers will perish, however. The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal will survive, he said.

Source: Yahoo Finance

Posted on: April 24, 2019

Shake-up at Markup, New Tech Watchdog

Investigative journalist Julia Angwin was fired Monday from her role as editor in chief of The Markup, the much-anticipated nonprofit news site dedicated to investigating technology and its effects on society that has raised more than $23 million in funding. This comes just weeks before the site’s July launch date. Angwin, formerly of ProPublica, had been working on the site the past year. In a letter to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, who gifted $20 million to The Markup, Angwin said she was being pushed out by executive director Sue Gardner, who along with Angwin and Jeff Larson is one of the site’s three co-founders. Angwin claimed Gardner wanted to change the site’s purpose to advocating against tech companies instead of “producing meaningful data-centered journalism about the impact of technology on society.” Contacted by The New York Times, Gardner denied any change in the site’s mission. Larson will succeed Angwin as editor in chief.


Source: The New York Times

Posted on: April 23, 2019

Irish Journalist Lyra McKee Gunned Down

Lyra McKee, a Northern Ireland journalist, was shot dead during rioting in the city of Londonderry on Thursday. McKee was "one of the most promising journalists in Northern Ireland, according to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and a "woman of great commitment and passion." In 2011 she formed a blog called The Muckraker, which became an investigative reporting nonprofit and joined GIJN in 2013. The Muckraker never really took off, and she withdrew it from GIJN's membership a year later, but Lyra's reporting kept going strong. She had signed a two-book deal with Faber and Faber, with her book The Lost Boys due out next year. Her death is being blamed on dissident Irish republicans after police searches in Londonderry.

Source: BBC

Posted on: April 19, 2019

Fear, Violence and Hate: 2019 World Press Freedom Index

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders shows how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media. The RSF Index, which evaluates the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories every year, shows that an intense climate of fear has been triggered — one that is prejudicial to a safe reporting environment. The hostility towards journalists expressed by political leaders in many countries has incited increasingly serious and frequent acts of violence that have fuelled an unprecedented level of fear and danger for journalists. Only 24 percent of the 180 countries and territories are classified as “good” or “fairly good,” as opposed to 26 percent last year. As a result of an increasingly hostile climate that goes beyond Donald Trump’s comments, the United States has fallen three places in this year’s Index and the media climate is now classified as “problematic.”

Source: RSF

Posted on: April 18, 2019