In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to report on Iraq, with attacks and threats against journalists leaving investigative journalists in the country at risk. In this article, an award-winning reporter explores what is happening and what is at stake.
Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from January 25 to 31 found interactive projects by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and The Guardian analyzing these events. In this edition, we also feature environmental reporting by The New York Times and The Economist, a Wall Street Journal story on the GameStop Reddit mania that shook stock markets, and a visual representation of 2020 using Lego bricks.
Craig Silverman had been digging into unhappy facts for years. But back in 2015, he came out with a report which would foretell the misinformation tsunami which would soon arrive. Tanya Pampalone, GIJN’s managing editor, caught up with Silverman, who is now the Toronto-based media editor for BuzzFeed News, to talk more about disinformation, as well as white noise, Hurricane Sandy, the Arab Spring, his first blog and what it is like to be the most depressing person in the room.
The Bahraini constitution guarantees freedom of expression and the press, excluding opinions that undermine the fundamental beliefs of Islam or the “unity of the people” and those that promote “discord or sectarianism.” However, the Law of Press, Printing and Publishing of 2002 is used to restrict free speech.; Law 47/2002 includes 17 categories of offenses, three of which allow for prison sentences. The freedom of expression climate in Bahrain has changed significantly since 2011, when protests influenced by the “Arab Spring” started taking place. The Bahraini authorities responded by prosecuting journalists and critics that covered political events or reflected the voices of protesters and voices of dissent.
In the past year, a group of Arab journalists has been working secretly in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Algeria, and Yemen as part of a global network of investigative reporters mining the so called “Panama Papers.” They found that some Arab strongmen and their business partners are linked to offshore companies and bank accounts. What’s astonishing about this story is not that Arab dictators are going offshore to hide their wealth and evade sanctions. It’s that a community of Arab journalists is continuing to do investigative reporting in a region where there is increasingly little tolerance for accountability of any kind.
GIJN member Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) will host its seventh annual forum for Arab investigative journalists in Amman in December. The conference, whose theme is “Arab Media: The Battle for Independence,” will feature 30 + panels and trainings with speakers like Sy Hersh, Marwan Muashar, Tim Sebastian, and more.
Let me tell you how I think it will go from here. Free speech – always a lonely and sickly child in the Arab world – is already back in intensive care throughout the region.
Street protests will gradually die out. Dissenters will continue to be arrested and given harsh sentences. Sustained government propaganda will convince any waverers that political stability and economic prosperity are far more important than personal freedoms, rule of law, universal human rights, and democratic values.
Despite the wishful thinking of the crowds, the final chapter of the Arab Spring is being written: it is about over.