CPJ releases annual assessment of press freedom worldwide
New York, April 27, 2015 – Terrorist groups and the governments who purport to fight them have made recent years the most dangerous period to be a journalist, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in its annual global assessment of press freedom, Attacks on the Press, released today. Some journalists are kidnapped or killed by militant groups while others are surveiled, censored, or imprisoned by governments seeking to respond to that threat, real or perceived.
Attacks on the Press is a collection of essays by regional experts and CPJ staff that examines the array of challenges journalists face. The 2015 edition features a foreword by CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, a member of CPJ’s board of directors.
“Journalists are being caught in a terror dynamic, in which they are threatened by non-state actors who target them and governments that restrict civil liberties including press freedom in the name of fighting terror,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “Attacks on the Press surveys this new landscape, providing insights into the myriad threats- from surveillance and self-censorship to violence and imprisonment-that make this the most deadly and dangerous period for journalists in recent history.”
Non-state actors, including criminal organizations and violent political groups, pose a significant threat to journalists as well as a challenge to press freedom advocates and news organizations. In places like Mexico and Paraguay, trafficking organizations are the primary threat. One essay examines how in 2014 journalists became props in propaganda films, reflecting a global trend in the documentation of violence by the perpetrators. Another essay looks at how journalists cope with continuous risks to their well-being.
Further essays examine how governments abuse anti-terror and national security laws to silence criticism. Ethiopia, one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists, has charged most of the journalists behind bars with promoting terrorism. Egypt under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi uses a similar technique; the country recently sentenced three reporters to life in prison because of alleged connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, across the Middle East, the Internet is treated as an enemy, as leaders are all too aware of its power in galvanizing anti-government movements.
In Europe, journalists must contend with limitations in the name of privacy, a rise in right-wing extremism, and homegrown terrorists such as those who murdered eight journalists at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. As in the U.S., a focus on national security forces journalists to think and act like spies to protect their sources, as CPJ Staff Technologist Tom Lowenthal writes.
The combination of threats poses an array of safety concerns for journalists. Conflict in Syria has reshaped the rules for covering conflict, as Janine di Giovanni writes. Many of those covering Syria are in fact covering their first war. Freelancers make up an increasing percentage of journalists killed for their work, leading CPJ and a coalition of press freedom organizations and media outlets to advocate for better global standards for protecting them and the local journalists on whom they rely.
The book is rounded out by essays on the different forms of censorship-wielded by governments and non-state actors-in Hong Kong, India, Libya, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, and West Africa during the Ebola epidemic.
Attacks on the Press was first published in 1986. The 2015 print edition is published by Bloomberg Press, an imprint of Wiley, and is available for purchase.
Note to Editors:
Attacks on the Press is available in English and select essays are available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.
For social media, CPJ suggests using the hashtag #AttacksOnPress.
On April 21, CPJ released a segment of Attacks on the Press, the 10 Most Censored Countries worldwide, a ranking of where the news media is most restricted by state control.
CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.
As former editors and writers for The New Republic, we write to express our dismay and sorrow at its destruction in all but name.
From its founding in 1914, The New Republic has been the flagship and forum of American liberalism. Its reporting and commentary on politics, society, and arts and letters have nurtured a broad liberal spirit in our national life.
The magazine’s present owner and managers claim they are giving it new relevance while remaining true to its century-old mission. Instead, they seem determined to strip it of the intellectual, literary, and political commitments that have been its essence and meaning. Their pronouncements suggest that they hold those commitments in contempt.
The New Republic cannot be merely a “brand.” It has never been and cannot be a “media company” that markets “content.” Its essays, criticism, reportage, and poetry are not “product.” It is not, or not primarily, a business. It is a voice, even a cause. It has lasted through numerous transformations of the “media landscape”—transformations that, far from rendering its work obsolete, have made that work ever more valuable.
The New Republic is a kind of public trust. That is something all its previous owners and publishers understood and respected. The legacy has now been trashed, the trust violated.
It is a sad irony that at this perilous moment, with a reactionary variant of conservatism in the ascendancy, liberalism’s central journal should be scuttled with flagrant and frivolous abandon. The promise of American life has been dealt a lamentable blow.
Peter Beinart (Editor)
Sidney Blumenthal (Senior editor)
Jonathan Chait (Senior editor)
David Grann (Senior editor)
David Greenberg (Acting editor)
Hendrik Hertzberg (Editor)
Ann Hulbert (Senior editor)
Robert Kuttner (Economics editor)
Robert B. Reich (Contributing editor)
Jeffrey Rosen (Legal editor)
Peter Scoblic (Executive editor)
Evan Smith (Deputy editor)
Joan Stapleton Tooley (Publisher)
Paul Starr (Contributing editor)
Ronald Steel (Contributing editor)
Andrew Sullivan (Editor)
Margaret Talbot (Deputy editor)
Dorothy Wickenden (Executive editor)
Sean Wilentz (Contributing editor)
Comcast, Disney, NewsCorp, TimeWarner–in the second decade of the twenty-first century, the corporate parentage and commercialization of American news organizations are widely recognized and well entrenched. Even PBS has gotten into the ratings game by subscribing to Nielsen. For critics, the commercial orientation of the news media inevitably conflicts with ideas about the role of a free and independent press in a democratic society. As media ownership is concentrated in fewer hands and becomes organized on a for-profit basis, it seems less likely that journalism can provide a venue for public deliberation or present an effective check on these powerful interests.
In their recent book Prophets of the Fourth Estate, communication scholars Amy Reynolds and Gary Hicks show us that this kind of critical perspective on the press is part of a tradition in American journalism that predates the rise of corporate media in the late twentieth century. Turning to the activist journalism of the Progressive Era, Reynolds and Hicks republish some of the earliest expressions of press criticism–a strand of muckraking that denounced the corrupting influence of commercial interests on American newspapers and periodicals. Featuring the work of Oswald Garrison Villard, Charles Edward Russell, and Moorfield Storey, among others, the reprinted articles presented in Prophets of the Fourth Estate, together with Reynolds and Hicks’s contextualizing essays, are a worthwhile addition to the existing literature on the critical journalism of the early twentieth century.
Kevin M. Kruse has an Op-Ed in today’s New York Times: The Real Loser: Truth. It is about how American politics may have turned a new corner thanks to the Romney Campaign’s gamble that politicians can lie with impunity and come out ahead.
Kruse says what a lot of people are thinking, but omits an important part of the discussion. Where are the journalists, and why are they allowing lies to pass for truth in the public mind? What are the responsibilities of journalists and the press in this context? What is the problem, and how do we solve it?
I won’t comment much on this except to speculate that this may be an example of a state of affairs in journalism where reporters are making sloppy mistakes because the pace of the newsroom, like the pace of everything else in the internet era, is too quick for us to keep tabs on everything as we should. Numerous reputable newspapers and magazines evidently misreported a story based on a reading of the original Saudi headline, without reading the article itself. Al Jazeera English reports: “Saudi Women-Only City? Look Again.”
A lot of local news, especially detailed news about suburban areas, is being outsourced to a company called Journatic, which sometimes uses fake names as bylines, as This American Life recently reported. NPR is reporting on the story in today’s Morning Edition. A good place for the details that are presently available is this story in the Columbia Journalism Review: “Journatic Busted for Using Fake Bylines.” The story within the world of journalism is not that Journatic exists, but just that it is using the fake bylines. To outside observers, the fact that local news is being outsourced and even offshored should be part of the scandal.
Alternatives in Print is a directory of book publishers and critical periodicals, consisting of the former print resources, Annotations and Alternative Publishers of Books in North America (APBNA). Library Juice Press published the 6th edition of APBNA, and the Alternative Press Center has been the publisher of Annotations, the periodicals directory. We have been working together on an online version of these two reference books for some time, and finally have it completed. It will be updated continuously by the original compilers of the directory information.
The website lets you search the directory by title, subject, or keyword, limiting to either periodicals or publishers (or both in the advanced search). The “front matter” has introductory essays about the alternative press. Library Juice Press is very happy to provide Alternatives in Print as a free online resource.
Arthur Brisbane is New York Times Public Editor, a position outside the regular editorial team that is supposed to act as the reader’s representative. Followers of this blog have probably already heard about his recent post, “Should the Times be a Truth Vigilante?, which many readers found maddeningly stupid. Brisbane was asking whether NYT reporters should challenge statements by journalistic subjects that the journalists know to be untrue. Brisbane was responding to broad public discussion about “He Said/She Said” reporting, in which the truth tends to get lost, although he seemed not to realize that this was the context of his post when he followed up on it yesterday. (Ostensibly, he was responding to an op-ed by Paul Krugman published in December, but he must know that the discussion about this problem has been much broader and been going on for a long time.) An informative early response to his initial post was from the tireless watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). (I will also point to a useful note from FAIR about “both sides are right” presumptions at PolitiFact, the political fact-checking blog.) What is so maddening about Brisbane’s question to readers is that it verges on questioning a fundamental principle of the fourth estate as the supporter of the public sphere – to be an independent monitor of power. At a time when traditional journalism is in a crisis for reasons beyond its control, it is difficult to comprehend why the public editor of America’s paper of record would flirt so explicitly with the idea of giving up on that principle that is the source of journalism’s enduring value to people. What it seems to me that he was doing in asking that question was asking the public to validate a journalistic trend that has been in progress for some time, that seems to be born of a failure to stand up to political pressure. The public hates He Said/She Said reporting. I think Brisbane simply miscalculated in his hope that the public would take the paper off the hook by providing a number of useful responses supporting this sorry trend.
I have said in the Library Juice blogging pledge that we won’t write about news topics that other people are writing a lot about unless we have something new to add, so let me attempt to add another angle to the discussion. What I would say it’s worth considering in light of this debate is that issues like this one have been debated from the beginning of modern journalism, and those earlier discussions can offer much to us now. Some recommendations along those lines. First, an article in Acadame, the AAUP’s journal, by Eric Alternman, summarizing the 1920s debate between Walter Lippmann and John Dewey over a broader question about the way journalism works in relation to democracy. Lippmann held that (even at the time) real policy issues were too complex for the public to understand through a simple presentation of accurate information, and that the main service of journalism is to provide the basis for conversation rather than information, and that this conversation is the real basis of democracy. In the time I spent as a reference librarian at the California Research Bureau providing service to policy analysts and legislative staffers, I came to sympathize strongly with this kind of view, because I saw that in fact public debate was highly simplified and dramatized versus the more sober and technical discussions that go on in the policy sphere, and this was partly because of the orientation of the public toward issues. Dewey’s side of the debate was more idealistic. It may be that journalism’s insiders see this problem partly from the perspective of the policy sphere about which they are charged with reporting to the public, with the result that in the process of negotiating the level of technical detail versus drama that they provide in news, they also negotiate with the level of truth.
An answer to this apology for compromised journalism could be found in many sources, and I will cite a couple of them. First, a book that is dated in its examples but not in its overall thrust: The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation, by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky. This book provides thorough evidence of the the kind of positive falsehoods, as opposed to oversimplifications, often offered by experts and reported unquestioningly by journalists. It is dated, but to the point.
More important, however, is the rich area of work surrounding the effects of the capitalist organization of the institutions that give us the news. From the most recent past era, a cornerstone work is Ben Bagdikian’s The Media Monopoly. Though it is from before the internet era, I think it is still essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the core problem behind “He Said/She Said” journalism and related failures (such as that steady stream of PR that makes up so much of what is presented as news). There are other important works related to Bagdikian’s from the same era, including Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s Manufacturing Consent and works by Robert McChesney. Not long ago these books were essential starting points for anyone wanting to think progressively about journalism, but new issues are causing them to fade into the background. It’s time for new to works deal with the same issues in the new media context. But these works and older ones are still important. For an understanding of how far back these market effects on journalism have been a problem, books worth consulting would be Upton Sinclair’s 1919 The Brass Check, which is freely available in various forms; a compilation of media criticism edited by Robert McChesney and Ben Scott, titled Our Unfree Press: 100 Years of Media Criticism; and a new book out by Amy Reynolds and Gary Hicks, Prophets of the Fourth Estate: Press Critics of the Progressive Era. (Full disclosure: Litwin Books is the publisher of the latter one).
I think the historical and political-economic context Brisbane’s question to readers is worth understanding better through some reading beyond the blogosphere, where past work is easily forgotten.
Authors: Amy Reynolds and Gary Hicks
Published: January 2012
Printed on acid-free paper
Prophets of the Fourth Estate: Broadsides by Press Critics of the Progressive Era highlights press criticisms during the Progressive Era (1890-1920) that aimed to enhance the role of the press in a democracy, limit corporatization, and better utilize the press’ capacity as an agent for social change. This insightful history of the press criticism of the era includes selections from the writings of critics of the news media of the time. The press critics discussed and republished in this volume include Charles Edward Russell, Moorfield Storey, Oswald Garrison Villard, Donald Wilhelm, Roscoe C.E. Brown, anonymous editorial writers at The Public and The Nation, and others. Their ideas and challenges to the corporate/commercial press model are as relevant today as they were nearly a century ago.
Amy Reynolds is the Thomas O. and Darlene Ryder Distinguished Professor II and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. Gary R. Hicks is associate professor and chair of the Department of Mass Communications at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Protest on the Page:
Print Culture History in Opposition to Almost Anything*
(*you can think of)
Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture
September 28-29, 2012
Protest has a long and varied tradition in America. The conference will feature papers focusing on authors, publishers and readers of oppositional materials, in all arenas from politics to literature, from science to religion. Whether the dissent takes the form of a banned book by Henry Miller or documents from Wikileaks, conference presentations will help us to understand how dissent functions within print and digital cultures.
The keynote speaker will be Victor Navasky, Publisher Emeritus of The Nation and George T. Delacorte Professor in Magazine Journalism, Director of the Delecorte Center for Magazine Journalism, and Chair of the Columbia Journalism Review. In addition, he is the author of such noted books as Kennedy Justice (1971), Naming Names (National Book Award, 1982), and A Matter of Opinion (George Polk Book Award, 2005). Perhaps best known for his long career as editor and then publisher of The Nation, Navasky has an understanding of dissent and its publications that has few peers. His lecture, and the subsequent reception, will be open to the general public.
Proposals for individual twenty-minute papers or complete sessions (up to three papers) should include a 250-word abstract and a one-page c.v. for each presenter. Submissions should be made via email to email@example.com. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2012. Notifications of acceptance will be made in early March 2012.
As with previous conferences, we anticipate producing a volume of papers from the conference for publication in the Center’s series, “Print Culture History in Modern America,” published by the University of Wisconsin Press. A list of books the Center has produced is available at the Center’s website (http://slisweb.lis.wisc.edu/~printcul/). The best proposals will mirror these earlier works, as they speak to their own authors, publishers, and readers.
For information, contact:
Christine Pawley, Director,
Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture
4234 Helen C. White Hall, 600 N. Park St.
Madison, WI 53706 phone: 608 263-2945/608 263-2900
fax: (608) 263-4849
Daniel Ellsberg spoke at the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans this summer, about the current world situation and libraries. ALA’s Leonard Kniffel followed up with this on-camera interview.
MiT7 was a great conference – intimate, warm, stimulating, interdisciplinary, and cutting-edge. There were some brilliant minds at work. I plan to post a few comments on the conference later. For now, here are links to podcasts from the three topical plenary sessions:
The JTA Jewish News Archive, which is searchable and free for the public to use, was launched officially Tuesday evening with a celebration at the Center for Jewish History in New York.
Highlights of the archive include extensive reporting from Europe in the 1930s and 1940s — including perhaps the first article on what has become known as the Babi Yar massacre — JTA’s reportage on the founding of the State of Israel, close and sustained coverage of the Soviet Jewry movement, and decades of articles chronicling the changing roles and responsibilities of Jewish women.