Reporters Without Borders has sent a letter about freedom of information in Cuba to French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who is about to make the first official visit to the Caribbean island by a member of the French government since 1983.
Cuba's violations of freedom of information must not be ignored during this visit. Improvement in relations between the European Union and Cuba must not be at the expense of Cuba's journalists and bloggers.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
37 Quai d'Orsay
Paris, 10 April 2014
Dear Foreign Minister,
Reporters Without Borders, an international organization that defends freedom of information, would like to draw your attention to the plight of professional and non-professional journalists in Cuba.
All independent media, both traditional and online, are censored in Cuba, which is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in our 2014 press freedom index. Even defending the right to information is obstructed by President Raúl Castro's government, which refuses to recognize NGOs, automatically treating them as accomplices to US hegemony.
Three Cuban journalists and bloggers are currently detained for disseminating information regarded as “counterrevolutionary” or defamatory of the Castro regime. Although the mass roundups of the 2003 Black Spring are over, arbitrary arrest has never ceased to be part of the daily life of journalists in Cuba.
More than a decade after the arrests of 75 journalists, librarians and human rights defenders, there has been no real improvement in the situation of these categories of people, as evidenced by the detention of Angel Santiesteban-Prats, a blogger held for the past 13 months, and José Antonio Torres, a former journalist with the official newspaper Granma, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in July 2012. Since the start of 2014, more than 15 journalists have been arrested for short periods, supposedly for identity checks.
Reporters Without Borders was recently outraged to learn of several arbitrary arrests and acts of intimidation by Cuban officials affecting two journalists and their families.
Roberto de Jesús Guerra, a journalist who runs Hablemos Press, an online information and free speech advocacy centre, reported on social networks on 3 April that immigration officials at Havana's José Martí International Airport had just held him for six hours and confiscated several of his books and work documents. He was returning from a trip abroad in which he had reported violations of freedom of information in Cuba to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and had participated in a seminar in Mexico on independent journalism.
His sister, Sandra Guerra, his 12-year-old daughter and his seven-year-old nephew were detained by the police for several hours two days later. He told Reporters Without Borders that he had no news of them throughout their arbitrary detention. These particularly shocking arrests are symptomatic of the oppressive climate of intimidation in which journalists in Cuba have to work.
A court in the central province of Sancti Spíritus sentenced Yoení de Jesús Guerra García, an independent blogger with the Yayabo Press agency, to seven years in prison on 13 March 2014. Held in Nieves Morejón prison since October 2013, she has been the repeated victim of violence by prison staff, which is unfortunately common in Cuban detention centres. The length of the period between her arrest and sentence, a year and a half, unquestionably violated the fundamental right of defence.
Your forthcoming meeting with your Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, cannot avoid the major challenges posed by the defence of freedom of information. The abusive treatment of journalists and netizens has been at the heart of the European Union's concerns since 2003 and must legitimately be raised during your talks.
France plays a leading role internationally, especially in the United Nations, as regards the issue of the safety of journalists. The renewal of bilateral ties between France and Cuba should not be at the expense of respect for the right to information.
I thank you in advance for the attention you give to this request.
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general
Abdulrahim Shaheen, a reporter for two newspapers – Al-Hurriya wa Al-Adala and Misr 25 – was arrested by national security police yesterday on charges of “membership of a terrorist group,” “inciting hatred” and “spreading false information.”
At the same time in Cairo, the trial of 20 Al-Jazeera journalists was adjourned for the fifth time after another hearing today.
Journalists continue to be exposed to arbitrary arrest although the new Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and opinion (article 65), freedom of the press (article 70) and media independence (article 72).
The Egyptian authorities have clearly not appreciated Al-Jazeera's coverage of demonstrations in support of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. On 3 September the Administrative Chamber of the Council of State ordered the closure of Al-Jazeera's Egyptian station.
The 20 Al-Jazeera journalists are charged with “undermining national unity and social peace,” “broadcasting false information” and “membership of a terrorist organization.” Eight of the 20 have been arrested while the other 12 are being tried in absentia.
The prosecutor's office has not named the detained journalists but, since 29 December, they have included Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Adel Fahmy, who has Canadian and Egyptian dual citizenship, Baher Mohamed, who is Egyptian, and Peter Greste, who is Australian.
Greste is accused of “collaborating with the Egyptian defendants by providing them with money, equipment and information (…) and broadcasting false reports designed to give the impression to the outside world that there was a civil war.”
In a show of solidarity, many journalists gathered outside BBC headquarters in London on 7 April, their 100th day in detention.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the way the Egyptian authorities are persecuting journalists. They should respect the principles enshrined in the new constitution, especially in article 71, which prohibits jail sentences in media cases.
Another Al-Jazeera journalist, Abdullah Al-Shami, has been held since 14 August without any charge being brought against him. He began a hunger strike on 23 January in protest against his arbitrary detention, and has so far reportedly lost 30 kilos in weight.
When Reporters Without Borders reached his brother, Mohamed Al-Shami, by telephone, he said he was “very worried” about his health. He said his brother “has seen a doctor only three times since his arrest” and “his health has deteriorated considerably.”
In an open letter that Mohamed al-Shami gave to Reporters Without Borders, the detained journalist writes:
“My name is Abdullah Al-Shami. I have already lived a quarter-century of my life, of which eight months between four walls where every day is the same as the previous one and the next one. There is no tomorrow here, no novelty. Eighty days have passed since the start of my hunger strike and I will not give up before achieving my goal of being released.My story is not a unique one. It is the story of all those who thirst for the freedom of information that is guaranteed in the laws. Not far from this cell, a door without a barrier or a guard will open and I will look up with confidence and firm determination. I am not a criminal nor a militia member. I am a journalist, and journalism is not a crime.”
Fahmy's health is also worrying. He has a shoulder injury that has not been treated properly and he can no longer move his right arm. His family wrote to acting President Adly Mansour requesting his release so that he can get appropriate treatment.
Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the 30-month jail sentence that a Bahraini court passed on the blogger Ali Maaraj on 8 April on charges of "insulting the king" and “improper handling of information technology".
RWB condemns these absurd charges and demands his immediate release and the quashing of his sentence. The Bahraini authorities have yet again demonstrated their contempt for freedom of information and their mistrust of publication tools.
The police arrested Maaraj at his home on 7 January, seizing his computer. His brother was simultaneously arrested at his workplace. He was released six weeks later.
Maaraj posted articles critical of Bahrain's monarchy on the Luluwa Awel blog. He also posted reports and other information about Bahrain's anti-government demonstrations.
The prosecutor said "he intentionally caused trouble to other people as a result of improper handling of information technology.” He was given six months in prison for this, plus two years for "insulting the king". No defence witnesses were allowed to testify at the trial, which was took just three hearings to complete, despite the severity of the sentence.
The Bahraini authorities often target news providers and human rights defenders. The 26-year-old photographer Ahmed Humaidan was sentenced to 10 years in prison on 26 March for allegedly taking part in "an attack on a police station in Sitra" in April 2012 although he was at the scene just to photograph the use of violence by the security forces.
Bahrain is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. It is also on the Reporters Without Borders list of "Enemies of the Internet".
Conducting video interviews can be daunting if you’re used to being behind the camera, rather than in front of it.
In this video posted by the BBC College of Journalism, BBC reporters Jon Sopel, Jane Corbin and Jim Fitzpatrick offer their advice for on-screen interviews.
Although the tips are aimed at television interviews, they can be applied to all forms of interview, whether for online, print or broadcast.
They include being “sceptical, not cynical” and planning ahead, while still being prepared for “unexpected opportunities”.Similar Posts:
- #Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – recording a better interview
- #Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – avoiding common video storytelling mistakes
- Online video: FT’s Stephen Pinches on opportunities for publishers with connected TV
- Times joins forces with Applied Works to create iPad interactives
- War correspondents’ awards adds online journalism prize
For a freelance writer, maintaining and updating your social media accounts is vital to your career. But it can be easy to neglect, what with the daily grind of chasing editors, finding new gigs and writing, writing, writing. Freelancing can be exhausting and finding the time to choose a new profile picture can easily become a last priority.
When one writer realized her social media accounts were collecting digital dust, she sprang into action, setting manageable goals for herself (like tweeting once a day). In our latest Journalism Advice column, the author shares her advice for using social media effectively:
All rules that apply in person should apply online. Conduct yourself with integrity, be witty and interesting, and don’t solicit or spam the people who love and admire you. If you’re a little baffled on how to maximize your social media experience, pick one outlet to focus on, rather than trying to be omnipresent. Google+ is especially relevant for writers with its Authorship function, which links the content you write to your Google+ profile (sign up at plus.google.com/authorship). On LinkedIn, consider joining a group designed for writers like LinkEds & Writers.
For more tips, including how to keep your passion projects alive, read: Crafting Your Ongoing Education as a Writer.
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New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
The No. 1 honor will be announced by the group later this month.
Do you agree?
Today’s announcement marks the first time the Center for Public Integrity has been nominated for a Webby Award.
Established in 1996, the Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, whose 1,000-plus members include the likes of actor Kevin Spacey, musician David Bowie and journalism entrepreneur Arianna Huffington.
This year’s contest received 12,000 entries from more than 60 countries across dozens of categories.
The Webby Awards presents two honors in every category — a winner selected by the judges and a winner selected by online voters.
In the best political blog category, the Center for Public Integrity is competing against The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, Truthdig and Exit Syria: Diaries from Za’atari, a project of Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service.
Voting in the “People’s Voice” portion of the contest ends on April 24, 2014.
All Webby Award winners will be announced on April 29.
Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the one-year jail term that Zaw Phay, a reporter for DVB Multimedia Group (DVB), received from a court in the northern city of Magway on 7 April on charges of trespassing on government property and disturbing a civil servant. He has already begun serving the sentence.
The case dates back to August 2012, when Zaw Phay went with the father of a student to the local education department in Magway to interview the official in charge of a Japanese-funded scholarship programme.
The official subsequently filed a complaint against both Zaw Phay and the student's father, Win Myint Hlaing, who has also been sentenced to a year in prison. Both intend to appeal.
DVB has condemned Zaw Phay's conviction, pointing out that he was just doing his job as a journalist by investigating a subject of general interest.
Zaw Phay's lawyer, Thein Tun, told Reporters Without Borders that Zaw Phay defied a ban – imposed in a completely illegal manner by the local authorities – on taking photos of government buildings.
The long delay between the incident and the trial may have been orchestrated deliberately by the local authorities in order to “teach Zaw Phay and Win Myint Hlaing a lesson,” he said.
“I am going to prepare a petition about this sentence, in order to mobilize as much support as possible, especially of people likely to come to the help of Zaw Phay's family, who are now in need,” Thein Tun added.
“We are not only worried about the impact this sentence could have on freedom of information in Burma but also about what it reveals about the situation in the country,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk.
“It is unacceptable that local officials can obstruct a journalist's work and have him sentenced to imprisonment just because they feel he disturbed them. We call on the local authorities to release Zaw Phay and we ask the government to ensure that media freedom is respected equally everywhere, without differences between Rangoon and the rest of the country.”
Burma is ranked 145th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Yes, you need to reset all your passwords. But what are the specific impacts for journalists regarding the Heartbleed security breach announced yesterday? For Source (and also the ProPublica Nerd Blog), Mike Tigas has a breakdown.
If your websites have SSL enabled (when users log in, for example), or if you use VPN software to secure your network, or if you run your own mail servers, your newsroom might be affected by Heartbleed.
Heartbleed can affect anything that uses OpenSSL version 1.0.1 or greater. This includes most open-source webservers (Apache, nginx, lighttpd), and can include email servers, instant message services (ejabberd, etc), and VPN servers (openvpn). Privacy software like Tor and SecureDrop are also vulnerable and have since released updates. Many popular server operating systems are affected and have released patches that fix the bug, including Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise and Arch Linux. [...]
If you get a version between 1.0.1 and 1.0.1f, you may be vulnerable. Some Linux distributions include a hotfix for this bug while keeping the same version number, so you should double-check the operating system’s website for more information.
Tigas’ post has specific next-steps for those who may be vulnerable. In addition, ONA’s Jen Mizgata suggests journalists whose hackles are raised by the bug consider attending their security summit this month in Indianapolis.
Asked last week whether he was buying the Star Tribune for business or altruistic reasons, Glen Taylor said a lot in a two-word answer: “50/50.”
News observers have parsed and poked at every recent big buy over the last year. Is this the turnaround? Why are these billionaires buying? What do they see? What’s the reason?
Life — even business — is sometimes a little more nuanced. We race to make money, even when we seemingly have enough. We acknowledge our roles within our wider communities. 50/50 is a perfect way to capture the spirit of some of the new personalities and money entering news company ownership. Almost all of them have a sense that they are buying near a financial bottom. And of course, there’s the ego-stroking that still comes with putting your name atop a masthead. Then there’s the mix of civic and sometimes political motivations we see ushered in by these new owners. It’s never quite a perfect 50/50 split, of course, and it varies with each of the new owners.
50/50, though, is an eloquently simple way to describe this new era of Bezoses, Buffetts, Henrys, and Taylors. Warren Buffett has been the most obscure in his motivations, but that’s explained by his use of publicly traded Berkshire Hathaway as a buying vehicle. John Henry laid out civic motivations in a way we haven’t heard from incumbent publishers in a long time, in his fall piece “Why I Bought the Globe.”
Now that new class of owners has unexpected company: Alice Rogoff.
Rogoff (illuminating in-house bio here) shot to national prominence Tuesday. Her purchase of McClatchy’s Anchorage Daily News for $34 million, and its planned merger with her six-year-old digital startup the Alaska Dispatch, re-electrified the local news debate. Another billionaire buying; another chain selling. Is it a trend? Are we seeing the deconsolidation of the U.S. press?
RELATED ARTICLEOnline journalist cuffed in Alaska explains his biz modelOur new Alaska tale can be read as a David taming a Goliath. The digital-only Alaska Dispatch, with a scrappy staff of less than 20 journalists, takes over the print incumbent, with the Daily News’ publisher and editor retiring with the sale. (While the Dispatch is small, it’s not a perfect David: Rogoff is a former chief financial officer of U.S. News and World Report, and her husband David Rubenstein has an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion.)
RELATED ARTICLEThe newsonomics of Pulitzers, paywalls, and investing in the newsroomRogoff, 62, shares that sense of place, of legacy, and of impact with Glen Taylor. Last week, the group that bought the Star Tribune out of bankruptcy in 2009, announced it was agreeing in principle to sell to Taylor, best known for owning the Minnesota Timberwolves. Seventy-five percent of the ownership has been split among GE Capital and the local Wayzata Investment Partners, and they’ve been rewarded for their above-average stewardship of the Star Tribune (“The newsonomics of Pulitzers, paywalls and investing in the newsroom”). I estimate the sale price at about $100 million, built both on healthy profits of $20 million-plus and an ahead-of-the-curve community-reaching, ad-servicing, reader-paying strategy. We knew the current owners were involved for the short term; the news here is that ownership will stay local, have deeper pockets, and keep management in place.
Glen Taylor is a 72-year-old Minnesota-bred billionaire who earned his way to his mini-Buffett empire of 50 or so companies through Taylor Corp., along with ownership in 30 other companies. He also has served as a moderate Republican state legislator from 1981 to 1990. He grew up reading newspapers and understands the value of a strong news organization in the life of a city (or two) and a state.
“I’m interested in this one because it’s a Minnesota paper,” Taylor told the Star Tribune. “For the long run, if we can continue to have a news media that’s consistent, fair, broad-based…I think it’s in the interest of our state. I would be proud to be part of that.”
Taylor and his fellow new newspaper publishers share at least three qualities. The first is what gains the headlines: They’re billionaires. They have enough money to buy a property worth a tenth or so what it would have gone for 15 years ago. Second, they have civic impulses, understanding that the world is about more than making money. Third, they are optimists, now apparently on the loose.
RELATED ARTICLEOptimism is the only option: The Washington Post’s Marty Baron on the state of the news mediaRELATED ARTICLEThe newsonomics of outrageous confidenceWashington Post executive editor Marty Baron outlined his nine excellent reasons (“Optimism is the Only Option”) to be optimistic about the news business, a seeming act of bravery in a trade that has long embraced cynicism is a professional religion. I’ve pointed to this emerging “outrageous optimism” as key driver of news business rebirth, and this week Capital New York’s Joe Pompeo pointed to it in the air in the NYT Now launch. Watch out: It could be contagious.
Let’s be clear about this particular rush of money. What’s most interesting about this spate of buys is that they are local.
National news media is in a new go-go mode, with diverse investment capital announced in the last year alone. Read Marc Andreesen’s well-noted manifesto and you can see the financial justification for everyone from Vox Media to ESPN and NBC Universal pouring millions in national/global news sites.
Then there’s Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media, still in embryonic stages. Its founder and funder is a 50/50 figure: clear about his pro-democracy reasons for building First Look, but also envisioning it at better than break-even — though that may take more than five years. For all of the moneyed individuals now investing in news, it’s a melding of market discipline and civic value.
The one thing Andreesen left out, as he prophesied hockey-stick-like growth for new media — “The big opportunity for the news industry in the next five to 10 years is to increase its market size 100×” — is local. In fact, almost all the movement of high-profile free agent journalists — the Ezra Kleins, Nate Silvers, Matt Yglesiases, and Kara Swishers — has been within the national news sphere. That 5,000-person increase in journalist hiring, noted in Pew’s recent report? The great majority are national, especially in the wake of Patch’s demise.
The local digital opportunity is real, but it’s a tough, years-long slog. It can never offer the sheer multiplying scale of a global audience or that hockey-stick dream return. It demands patience. It requires at least a 50/50 approach to business and life. That’s why these billionaire bets are timely: They bring money and time to the business of reviving a local American press.
Will this go off the tracks in certain cities? Many will say we already have our proof in millionaire Papa Doug Manchester’s tenure owning U-T San Diego (née the Union-Tribune) in San Diego. But then again, we’ve always had a wide spread of viewpoint and journalistic quality among the daily newsrooms spread across America.
All else equal, though, local ownership is a good thing. That may be especially so in this age. Look at the broad history of chains sweeping up most of American’s dailies in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and you can see all kinds of patterns. Great local papers were homogenized; wretched local papers were made much better, with some even made great. It depended on which chain owner you got in your city. Today, the financial pressure on the chains makes their own reinvestment in the print/digital future hard to pull off. So, local buyers, with deeper pockets and good intentions, can be a very good thing for the local news business and its readers.The slow unchaining of U.S. daily journalism
We’re not seeing the end of newspaper chain journalism. But we clearly see a weakening of the links, especially in metro markets. (Consider this historical footnote: The Anchorage Daily News was McClatchy’s first outside-of-California paper acquisition, the beginning of its chain growth.) Make no mistake: The rationale for chain ownership — those sometimes-real, sometimes-elusive synergies of multiple properties across broad geographies — still has some purpose. The new, post-bankruptcy GateHouse/New Media Investment Group, funded by Fortress Investment Group, is currently the most aggressive in rollup. (Here’s a good explainer by the Boston Business Journal’s Jon Chesto.) Even as some of the old chains sell, new chains are replacing them.
Still, overall, we’re seeing some significant unchaining of newspapers. Alice Rogoff’s purchase in Anchorage is only the latest example. In the past year, we’ve seen the New York Times Co. complete the process of de-chaining itself, selling The Boston Globe to John Henry. A. H. Belo sold off its Riverside Press-Enterprise to Aaron Kushner’s Freedom Communications (now more a multi-title local news company than a chain, as it launches the L.A. Register next week) and has placed its Providence Journal on the market. When the ProJo is sold, A. H. Belo will be back to being a Dallas-area company. Could McClatchy ultimately peel back to its own California roots, with its three Bees and two other properties? The company will take $24 million in post-tax gains from the Alaska sale, as it tries to thread its needle, balancing debt reduction and digital investment. It may seem far fetched to think of a smaller McClatchy today, but consider the massive change among McClatchy’s newspaper brethren.
RELATED ARTICLEThe newsonomics of the print orphanage — Tribune’s and Time Inc.’sRELATED ARTICLEThe newsonomics of Digital First Media’s Thunderdome implosion (and coming sale)Knight Ridder, not long ago the No. 2 largest newspaper company in the company, sold itself to McClatchy eight years ago. Tribune, the No. 3, is about to spinoff (“The newsonomics of orphanage”) its all its newspapers, with follow-on sales of individual papers the greatest likelihood. MediaNews is no longer with us, merged along with the Journal Register chain into Digital First Media, which itself (“The newsonomics of Digital First Media’s Thunderdome implosion — and coming sale”) looks to be splitting apart. Media General is no longer a newspaper company, selling its largest paper, in Tampa, to single owners for a bargain price and the rest to the newest contrarian chain in the business, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Media.
The Washington Post has moved from a larger diversified company into the singularity of the Post itself. In the Twin Cities, the Cowles-owned paper Star Tribune went chain in 1996 when McClatchy bought it, and now has meandered its way back to individual ownership as Glen Taylor comes forward to buy the paper.
Wow. It’s dizzying change for what used to be a staid industry. Though it’s not clearly moving in a straight line, the unwinding of the chains is real. The post WWII logic of buying and building holds far less logic financially.Beyond billionaire bingo
Billionaires can be good for the newspaper business. That’s the good news. The bad news: There aren’t that many to go around. We have a paltry 492 in the U.S., and they’re unevenly distributed geographically. (A few of China’s 152 have shown interest in U.S. media. And then there are the 111 in Russia, who may find America a more compelling investment environment in these post-Crimean invasion times.)
Still, the 0.000001% are having an impact. It may soon have more.
In L.A., Eli Broad is once again expressing interest in buying the L.A. Times — and returning it to local control. In San Diego, control — which has been local except for a brief Platinum Equity interim — looks like it is up for grabs again. Given the opportunity to rebut the notion of U-T San Diego is for sale, CEO John Lynch refused to do so.
Of course, for readers in southern California and around the country, it depends on which billionaires or multi-millionaires (yes, you qualify too) you get. You want the ones, whether Republican or Democrat, who believe in a fair, straight-ahead news report.
RELATED ARTICLEThe newsonomics of the Kochs rising — and uprisingConsider last year’s allergic reaction to the Koch Brothers’ attempt to buy the Tribune newspapers. Through public protest and private pressure, the Tribune properties never made it to the offer sheet stage — but they’ll come back on the market some time after the spinoff. Given the Kochs’ great understanding of political influence, why wouldn’t they buy newspapers as another lever of political persuasion? As news of the DFM shakeup reverberated around the country last week, smart observers noted that one of the purplest of purple states — Colorado — could see one billionaire newspaper owner, Philip Anschutz, consolidate the state’s press. With its “stridently conservative” stance, those nine electoral votes in 2016 may swing in the balance. While the Roberts Supreme Court has widened the opening for wealthy campaign donations, owning a press still offers an old-fashioned means of influence.
RELATED ARTICLEThe newsonomics of the for-profit move in local online newsTo be sure, relying on billionaires to save the local day would be silly. We’ve seen all kinds of efforts — from tenacious, high-achieving, nonprofit startups to would-be for-profit digital chains, as well as financial strategizing around “low-profit” local news corps. All have their place in the renaissance. This year, though, it is the boys (and girls) with the big bucks who are making headlines.