Tag Archives: new media

Freedom of the Press

The internet has allowed greater freedom of the press than ever before in human history but many governments have shown tendencies to try to combat this freedom wherever they can.

Reporters Without Borders is an NGO dedicated to protecting journalists and the rights of the press.

“Every year, some 500 journalists are arrested, 1,000 assaulted or threatened, and over 500 media outlets censored. All of these violations have serious consequences which need to be tracked in order to better counteract them.” – RSF

They also campaign against internet censorship, teach about online security and provide support for online journalists.

“Netizens now play an essential role in the vanguard of news coverage worldwide. However, more and more often, they are becoming victims of threats and censorship by governments who fear this new cyberspace of freedom.”

Organisations like this are becoming increasingly necessary with the climate of censorship and harassment of the press that appears to be growing more prevalent in countries that would have previously supporting a free media.

UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré
UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

The US have traditionally taken great pride in their press freedoms but in recent years have found ways to undermine any attempts at investigative journalism.

In May this year the US Department of Justice seized the calls records of the Associated Press (AP) without being given warning or told why the records were needed, no warrant was issued. Whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden or Barrett Brown have all mean met with severe punishment or been forced to flee the country.

Not only that but one of the documents that Chelsea Manning is accused of having passed to WikiLeaks is a video proving that a US helicopter was responsible for the killing of two Reuters reporters as well as multiple Iraqi civilians.

Barrett Brown is facing charges that could add up to 105 years in federal prison for simply investigating the actions of a private security company. Jeremy Hammod, pleaded guilty to hacking the email account of Stratfor and released hundreds of emails that contained sensitive information including discussions of possible assassinations. Brown linked colleagues to a public URL that contained the emails. This is the reason he is being charged with “trafficking” in stolen goods.

“Barrett Brown is not a hacker, he is not a criminal…He did not infiltrate any systems, nor did he appear to have the technical expertise to do so. Above all, Barrett was an investigative journalist who was merely doing his professional duty by looking into the Stratfor emails, an affair of public interest. The sentence of 105 years in prison that he is facing is absurd and dangerous” – Reporters Without Borders General Secretary, Christophe Deloire.

In the last week, a gag order has been placed not only on Brown himself but on all his lawyers forcing them to refrain from: “any statement to members of any television, radio, newspaper, magazine,  internet (including, but not limited to, bloggers), or other media organization about this case”.

In response to trends like these, Pieter Omtzigt of the European People’s Party has tabled a motion for a resolution regulating surveillance programmes and protecting whistleblowers on July 31th in the Council of Europe. 

The proposed resolution would call on member states to regulate and control surveillance, protect whistleblowers on a national level and spark an investigation by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. This committee has previously shed light on CIA inference and secret detention centres.

All over the world, journalists continue to be at risk. A month ago journalists were attacked by soldiers in Sri Lanka for covering a protest against the pollution of a local water source. Four atheist bloggers were arrested and one imprisoned in Bangladesh. Authorities in Myanmar have consisted sought to curb the media and have now banned Time magazine for it’s discussion of militantly, radical Buddhist groups.

It is the purpose and responsibility of journalists to critically report on world events but far greater protections for these reporters need to be implemented.

Tanzanian radio broadcaster Phot credit: UNESCO /Jonathas Mello
Tanzanian radio broadcaster Photo credit: UNESCO /Jonathas Mello

Who are the journalists of 2013?

“Thou shall not think having a blog makes you a journalist” – Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip

That’s an important thing to remember. It’s something remind myself if I get to big headed. But then again, I would also argue that having a big corporate contract doesn’t necessarily make you a journalist either. I haven’t seen anyone I’d call a journalist on FOX News or writing for The Daily Mail any time recently and yet all these news outlets pull greater respect than online news-breakers, with twitter and blogs.

Press credentials are not the necessity they once were and neither is working for a big media company or ever having your name in paper and ink print.

Photo from UN - Sec Gen briefs Journalists
Photo from UN – Sec Gen briefs Journalists

Modern social media has blurred the lines between the people telling and making the news and those who consume it. This has led to a lot of regurgitation of news stories from one agency to another but it also opens up the possibilities of looking at breaking news from several perspectives. Podcasts have taken the place of political talk radio for much of the younger generation. Shows like Citizen Radio, because they are produced by the hosts they have the freedom to push more boundaries than many in more traditional medias.

Twitter in recents years has been particularly influential in breaking stories and live updating as events unfold. The bombing of the Boston marathon and the subsequent confusion and manhunt saw Twitter really rise to the forefront of the news with Twitter-focused news outlets like Anonymous’ @YourAnonNews being an hour ahead of CNN or FOX for most of the night.

But expediency does not a journalist make either. The speed information can travel has increased dramatically but ultimately it is still the job of journalists to examine information in its context and supply considered analysis. Which is a challenge we here at Global Echo hope to undertake.

So perhaps journalists in the modern world are not defined by their credentials or their medium but rather the quality of their work.

Our world is still as huge and diverse as ever but the information age has made it seem smaller. This is a challenge, to avoid homogenous reporting, but also an opportunity to engage with a wider and more diverse audience than ever.

— Orla-Jo