Blog   |   China

As Wang is freed, Chinese journalist Shi Tao still held

A protester holds a poster depicting jailed journalist Shi Tao. (AP/Miguel Villagran)

Chinese dissident Wang Xiaoning was released today after serving a 10-year prison term on charges of "incitement to subvert state power," a case built in good part on client information supplied by Yahoo. Wang had used his Yahoo email account and the discussion forum Yahoo Groups to spread ideas the government deemed dangerous. His case closely parallels that of journalist Shi Tao, another Yahoo user who fell afoul of the Chinese government. In 2005, Shi was convicted of "illegally leaking state secrets abroad" and given a 10-year sentence. Yahoo had helped authorities identify Shi through his account information.

Blog   |   Internet

Dear CPJ: Some malware from your 'friend'

An analyst looks at malware code in a lab. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

We talk a lot about hacking attacks against individual journalists here, but what typifies an attempt to access a reporter's computer? Joel Simon, CPJ's executive director, received an email last week that reflects some characteristics of a malware attack against a journalist or activist. There was nothing particularly notable about the targeting. (Like many reporters, CPJ receives such attempts occasionally). The attack failed at the first fence, and my casual investigation into the source was inconclusive. There are no shocking answers or big headlines to draw from this attack. But it does illustrate a contemporary reality: Opportunistic assailants regularly shower journalists with software attacks.

Blog   |   Venezuela

Attacks on press in Venezuela expand online

Chávez' Twitter page. (AFP/Juan Barreto)

Online penetration in Venezuela has increased in recent years, with 40 percent of its population online, according to the International Telecommunication Union. A significant amount of activity takes place on Twitter, where Venezuela has the highest penetration in the region after Uruguay, according to local research company Tendencias Digitales. President Hugo Chávez Frías, who has more than three million followers on Twitter, uses the platform regularly to convey official news--as he did on Tuesday when a raging fire at an oil refinery was extinguished, leaving 48 people dead, according to a report on EFE.

Blog   |   India

News media expand, but freedom lags in Kashmir

Indian police detain a Kashmiri protester in Srinagar. (AP/Mukhtar Khan)

Early this month, newspaper offices in Indian-controlled Kashmir received a note warning journalists to be more supportive of the Kashmir independence movement, according to the leading national daily, The Times of Indiaciting a news agency in the state's summer capital, Srinagar. No militants took responsibility this time, but in mid-March insurgent groups issued a joint message that urged journalists to "highlight the pain and suffering of Kashmiris because of oppressive state policies." 

August 27, 2012 5:07 PM ET

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Blog   |   Cambodia

A journalist's account of a Cambodian activist's death

Chut Wutty's son stands near a picture of his father during a commemoration ceremony. (Reuters/Samrang Pring)

Here's a quick pointer to a piece in the Daily Beast by freelance reporter Olesia Plokhii, who worked at The Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh until May this year. Plokhii's moving story, "Death of a Forester," describes the death of Chut Wutty, a Cambodian activist who was shot a few feet away from Plokhii and another journalist, Phorn Bopha, while he accompanied them to an illegal logging site in a protected forest in Koh Kong province. 

August 27, 2012 1:08 PM ET

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Blog   |   Russia

Criminalization of speech a serious setback for Russia

Thousands gathered in December 2011 to protest the alleged vote rigging in parliamentary elections. (AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Shortly after the May 7 presidential inauguration of Vladimir Putin, the Russian parliament passed four major bills in record time--all of them meant to counter the protests that first erupted in the country in December 2011.

Blog   |   India

India's clumsy Internet crackdown

Residents of India's northeast crowd a railway station as they flee ethnic violence. (AP/Anupam Nath)

Indian Internet advocates and journalists are in an uproar this week over the news that the government has blocked access to around 300 websites, pages, and social media accounts in an effort to quell communal violence in the turbulent northeast. The rationale is that inflammatory online content has fanned tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in states including Assam, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra, contributing to a mass exodus from the region and violence in other cities. The offending content included fabricated images of violence against Muslims, apparently circulated to incite retaliatory attacks, according to news reports.

August 22, 2012 5:02 PM ET

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Blog   |   Security, USA

Resources, tips for journalists covering conventions

Journalists view the stage for the coming Republican National Convention. (Reuters/Scott Audette)

With up to 15,000 journalists expected in Tampa, Fla., for next week's Republican National Convention, some reporters and photographers will undoubtedly encounter problems concerning access to news events and coverage of related protests. Several journalism organizations have compiled resource materials and tips for journalists headed to the GOP gathering, which starts August 27, and the Democratic convention that begins September 3. Here are some of those resources:

Blog   |   Pakistan

Is Pakistan's Ansar Abbasi being banned?

Ansar Abbasi, editor of investigations for Pakistan's leading media group Jang, is apparently facing a de facto ban from his own employers. Other TV channels also report being told not to air his views. Abbasi has charged cable operators with spreading immoral, anti-Islamic messages through Indian movies and other popular culture broadcasts. In response, he says, they are censoring his views.

August 22, 2012 9:54 AM ET

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Blog   |   Ethiopia

In Meles' death, as in life, a penchant for secrecy, control

The late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, shown here in 2010. (AFP/Simon Maina)

Ethiopians awakened this morning to state media reports that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, 57, the country's leader for 21 years, had died late Monday in an overseas hospital of an undisclosed disease. Within seconds, Ethiopians spread the news on social media; within minutes, international news media were issuing bulletins. Finally, after weeks of government silence and obfuscation over Meles' health, there was clarity for Ethiopians anxious for word about their leader. Still, it was left to unnamed sources to fill in even the basic details. Meles died in a Brussels hospital of liver cancer, these sources told international news organizations, and he had been ill for many months.

"Death of yet another African leader highlights secrecy & lack of transparency when it comes to ailing leaders," CNN's Faith Karimi noted on Twitter, where the hashtag #MelesZenawi was trending globally.

Blog   |   Burma, China, Japan

Yamamoto's death reflects Japan's media reach, duty

Japanese reporter Mika Yamamoto was killed after being caught in gunfire in Aleppo, Syria. (AFP/NHK News)

My colleagues and I were saddened to learn of the death of Mika Yamamoto, a Japan Press video and photo journalist who was killed while covering clashes in Aleppo, Syria, on Monday. The moment was all the more poignant because of the similarities with two other Japanese journalist fatalities: Kenji Nagai of APF News in Burma in 2007 and Hiro Muramoto of Reuters in Thailand in 2010. As with Yamamoto, Nagai and Muramoto were photojournalists covering conflict between anti-government elements and government troops in foreign countries.

Blog   |   China, Taiwan

Censors stymie reporting on China's biggest news stories

The Taiwanese flag was obscured or erased in some Chinese publications that published photos like this one, of activists being arrested by Japanese police as they  landed on islands claimed by China, Japan, and Taiwan. (AP/Yomiuri Shimbun, Masataka Morita)

It's a big news day in China, and state-controlled media are purposely dropping the ball to escape controversy and censorship. 

Blog   |   Spain

The long shadow of Spanish politics over public media

A recent wave of personnel changes at Spanish state-owned broadcaster Radio Televisión Española (RTVE) has raised concerns about political and ideological influence, with many fearing that journalists closer to the current conservative government are being promoted at the expense of those with alleged progressive views. It is the latest controversy in a long debate about the model for Spain's flagship public broadcaster and, especially, its relations with the government of the hour.

Blog   |   China, Japan

Japan releases Chinese journalists--China's up next

Chinese activists are escorted as they disembark from a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship. (Reuters/Kyodo)

It's not often we at CPJ find ourselves calling on other countries to release Chinese journalists from detention. But that's just what happened yesterday. Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV contacted us to say that two of their journalists were among a group of 14 arrested by Japanese authorities over a disputed territory in the East China Sea. For once, we found ourselves in accordance with Chinese authorities, who called for the "unconditional and immediate release" of all 14, according to Reuters

August 17, 2012 2:11 PM ET

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Blog   |   Mexico, Security, USA

Mexico must back up federal measure to protect press

Journalists protest the murder of a Mexican journalist earlier this year. (AFP/Sergio Hernandez)

Using guns, grenades, explosives, and other deadly means, criminals have assaulted four Mexican newsrooms in less than six weeks. One of the country's top journalists, Lydia Cacho, was the target of a chilling death threat last month. Journalists in Veracruz have gone missing or been killed this year. Press fatalities in Mexico remain among the highest in the world, leading to vast self-censorship. And the perpetrators? They are not only well organized and heavily armed, they enjoy near-complete impunity for their attacks on the press. Mexican lawmakers began to address the crisis this year, but now they risk losing the momentum.

Blog   |   Ecuador, Sweden, UK, USA

As it backs Assange, Ecuador stifles expression at home

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa holds the hands of Christine Assange, the mother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, during a meeting in Quito, Ecuador, Aug. 1. (AP/Martin Jaramillo)

The Quito government's decision to grant Julian Assange political asylum comes at a time when freedom of expression is under siege in Ecuador. President Rafael Correa's press freedom record is among the very worst in the Americas, and providing asylum to the WikiLeaks founder won't change the repressive conditions facing Ecuadoran journalists who want to report critically about government policies and practices.

Blog   |   South Sudan

McClatchy's Boswell caught in South Sudan's war of words

Alan Boswell (Courtesy Boswell)

A day before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited South Sudan this month, McClatchy correspondent Alan Boswell reported that President Salva Kiir had finally acknowledged his government's support for a Nuba Mountains-based group that had been skirmishing with Sudanese forces. In a letter to his U.S. counterpart, the story said, Kiir apologized for his previous denials, which came in the face of U.S. intelligence to the contrary. The story, which exposed an important element in the tense relations between the two once-joined nations, put Boswell in the cross-hairs.

Blog   |   Italy, UK

Council of Europe foreign ministers call for libel reform

Trickling back from the summer recess, European press freedom advocates and media lawyers are taking stock of facts and statements that went underreported during the holiday lull. And libel reform stands on top of the pile.  

Blog   |   Bahrain, Somalia, Syria

Syria, Somalia, Bahrain--where fathers bury their sons

From left: Anas al-Tarsha, 17, Syria; Ahmed Addow Anshur, 24, Somalia; Mahad Salad Adan, 20, Somalia; Hassan Osman Abdi, 24, Somalia; Mazhar Tayyara, 24, Syria.

The 17-year-old videographer Anas al-Tarsha regularly filmed clashes and military movements in the city of Homs in Syria, and posted the footage on YouTube. On February 24, he was killed by a mortar round while filming the bombardment of the city's Qarabees district, according to news reports. The central city had been under attack for more than three weeks as Syrian forces stepped up their assault on opposition strongholds.

Blog   |   China

Umbrellas cast shadow over 'open' trial in China

A spectator is surrounded by journalists Thursday after exiting the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court where the trial of Gu Kailai for murder takes place. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)

We cover all kinds of censorship here at CPJ. Recently we documented the cunning application of scissors to prevent readers from accessing China-related articles in hard copy magazines. But it's been a while since we've had chance to write about one favored implement of information control in China: the umbrella. 

August 9, 2012 3:44 PM ET

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Blog   |   Security, USA

What to do if you are detained or arrested at conventions

A demonstrator is arrested in downtown Chicago during a protest against the NATO Summit in May 2012. (Mickey H. Osterreicher)

As a follow-up to my previous "What to know about covering the conventions," the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has been working with a number of organizations in order to provide support for journalists covering the U.S. national political conventions in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., this month and next. Some things for those journalists to keep in mind:

August 9, 2012 11:16 AM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Election corruption grave threat to Pakistan's media

"Elections will not be fought, but will be bought," is a saying being used by political tacticians in Pakistan. Hope for the legitimacy of the country's first fair transfer of power between two civilian governments with the oversight of unbiased media is disappearing quickly. Billions of rupees are pouring into media outlets through secret sources, journalists and media watch organizations say. The cash is being paid out in several different ways. 

Blog   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, USA

US pursues return of Palestinian TV station's equipment

For more than five months, the Ramallah-based private television broadcaster Wattan TV has been without key equipment, including transmitters, computers, files, and archives. On February 29, Israeli soldiers and officials from the Ministry of Communications raided the station without a warrant, saying it was broadcasting illegally and interfering with aircraft transmissions.

August 7, 2012 3:39 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

No right to information in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in white, inspects a parade May 19 marking the third anniversary of the defeat of Tamil Tiger separatists. (Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

You would think that with fighting between government forces and secessionist Tamils finished in May 2009, the Sri Lankan government might ease its grip on public information--information which is really the property of the country's citizens, not whichever administration happens to be holding political power. In 2004, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike's cabinet did approve a Freedom of Information Bill, but parliament was dissolved and the bill never went further.

Blog   |   Internet, Syria, USA

Weak cyber protections lead to personal, institutional risk

The Syrian civil war is also a propaganda war. With the Assad regime and the rebels both attempting to assure their supporters and the world that they are on the brink of victory, how the facts are reported has become central to the struggle. Hackers working in support of Assad loyalists this week decided to take a shortcut, attacking the Reuters news agency's blogging platform and one of its Twitter accounts, and planting false stories about the vanquishing of rebel leaders and wavering support for them from abroad.

August 6, 2012 6:14 PM ET

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Blog

Principled broadcasting in Pakistan, a work in progress

Pakistan's media, particularly broadcast, are often praised and condemned, sometimes in the same sentence. The number of television broadcasters exploded under the Musharraf government, growing to around 90 private cable and satellite channels. And while the growth has been swift and competitive, very often the end product leaves a lot to be desired--as many in the industry admit.

August 3, 2012 1:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   Somalia

Mogadishu comic is latest Somali media death

Abdi Jeylani Malaq (Hiiran Online)

All the radio stations wanted him, and for good reason--Abdi Jeylani Malaq was one of the most famous comedians in Mogadishu, and it was the holy month of Ramadan when the radio broadcasters hold quiz shows. Abdi had been in the business since 1989 and was in hot demand as a commentator for the competitions. He had just finished one such quiz show Tuesday evening at Radio Kulmiye, in the capital's central region, and had left the station for home when two gunmen shot him five times in the chest and head, local journalists told me. He was pronounced dead from blood loss at Medani Hospital and was buried Thursday. "He was a great friend for me and for all Somali journalists," recounted Abdalla Ahmed, a reporter for the private Mogadishu station Radio Risaale. 

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