In the run-up to #GIJC17 in Johannesburg in November, we are publishing a series of articles on the state of journalism in Africa to give conference-goers perspective on the continent. In this piece, researcher Jonathan Rozen shows how internet shutdowns in Ethiopia, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon are impacting journalists.
As we prepare to gather in Johannesburg for #GIJC17, it’s worth noting the many challenges African journalists face. From South Africa to Somalia, July was a particularly ominous month for free expression on the continent.
Global press freedom has continued its decline, now at its lowest point in 13 years in 2016 due to unprecedented threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies, intensified crackdowns by authoritarian states, and moves by Russia and China to increase their influence beyond their borders, according to Freedom of the Press 2017, the latest edition of Freedom House’s annual report on media freedom worldwide.
Reporters Without Borders this week released its 2017 World Press Freedom Index of 180 countries, and the news is not good. The report found media freedoms falling in democracies and that “nothing seems to be checking that fall.” Nearly two thirds (62.2%) of countries measured had deteriorated freedoms, while the number of countries where the media freedom situation was “good” or “fairly good” fell by 2.3%.
The Global Investigative Journalism Network is calling on Nigerian authorities to immediately drop all charges against the publisher and a reporter for the investigative news site Premium Times. In a letter sent to Nigerian officials today, GIJN Executive Director David E. Kaplan called the charges “an attempt to intimidate Premium Times from independent inquiry.”
What a year… We’ve been Trumped and Brexited, blitzed by bogus news, and fighting to protect good journalism pretty much everywhere. But there were flashes of hope and better days. The Spotlight movie and Panama Papers showed the world what great reporting can do. As the year draws to a close, we’d like to share the 10 most popular stories on our site that have grabbed the attention of our dear readers.
The second-annual Hitchens Prize—honoring the memory and legacy of the late Vanity Fair contributing editor and columnist Christopher Hitchens—was given to Marty Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, at a dinner held at New York City on November 28, 2016. This year’s citation acknowledged Baron’s long career in journalism and his work as editor at The Washington Post and earlier at The Boston Globe (featured in the Academy Award-winning movie Spotlight this year). In accepting the Hitchens Prize, Marty offered words of wisdom for journalists in the Trump Era.
Corruption is one of the most dangerous beats for journalists, and one of the most important for holding those in power to account. There is growing international recognition that corruption is also one of the biggest impediments to poverty reduction and good governance. This is why journalists on this beat must be protected, including by multilateral lending institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Independent news organizations in Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea are experiencing both direct and indirect challenges in cyberspace, from content blocking to censorship and self-censorship. Edgardo Legaspi, executive director of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, says threatened governments are “playing catch-up” after recognizing that the Internet can be an effective tool for voices to be heard.
Threats to NGOs and civil society actors have escalated in a number of countries across Asia and the Pacific, among them the arrests of activists opposing the referendum in Thailand and supporters of the West Papua freedom movement in the Pacific.