Category Archives: Media Issues

Investigating the investigative reporters: Bad news from Down Under

Australian federal police entering the Australian Broadcast Company headquarters on June 5, 2019. A.B.C. screenshot from videotape

Michael J. Socolow, University of Maine

Sometimes the best journalism tells us the worst news.

The United States has a tradition of learning troubling news through extraordinary reporting efforts from combat zones. During the Vietnam War, award-winning journalism revealed the slaughter of Vietnamese civilians by American soldiers at My Lai. More recently, reports describing the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq embarrassed the U.S. government.

Such investigative reporting ultimately helped American citizens hold accountable those charged with acting in their name. But that didn’t mean the news was welcome, or even appreciated, at the time. Continue reading

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Journalist killings, arrests and assaults climb worldwide as authoritarianism spreads

Reuters reporters Wa Lone, left, and Kyaw Soe Oo after being freed from prison, in Yangon, Myanmar, May 7, 2019. Ann Wang/Pool Photo via AP

Randy Covington, University of South Carolina

Myanmar, nudged by the conscience of the world, recently released two Reuters journalists imprisoned for more than 500 days – good news in what otherwise has been a dismal period for media freedom.

The 2019 Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders shows how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence and created “an intense climate of fear” worldwide. Continue reading

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With Viral Tweet, Activist Urges Defeat of Massive Grand Canyon Development That Threatens Local Tribe’s Water

“There’s no national news coverage about this and some very rich people want to keep it that way.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-28-2019

An developer is planning to build a new housing and entertainment development just 10 miles from the Grand Canyon, but an activist’s viral tweet urged opponents to contact a local town council to stop the plan from going forward. (Photo: Alberto Gambardella/Flickr/cc)

A grassroots campaign is calling on anyone who opposes a huge new development just a few miles from Grand Canyon National Park to make their objections known to local officials as the government of a nearby town prepares to vote on the building of a new housing, retail, and entertainment complex.

A Twitter thread by a grassroots activist called “Jack” went viral Monday, gaining more than 100,000 re-tweets in about 24 hours as users read about an Italian development company’s plans to build a convention center, a spa, more than 2,000 homes, and potentially a water park just 10 miles from the beloved national landmark. Continue reading

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‘What Could Be More Important?’: World Leaders, Media Ignore Biodiversity Report Detailing Mass Extinction Event Now Underway

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-23-2019

Scientists at the UN’s Intergovernmental Science‑Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a study showing that a million species are at risk for extinction earlier this month—but the report was largely ignored by the corporate news media. (Photo: Danny Perez Photography/flickr/cc)

Scientists at the United Nations’ intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species—but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

Deutsche Welle reported Thursday that partially because the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released its report on what it called nature’s “unprecedented” decline on the same day that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had their first child, news reports on the study’s grave implications were few and far between. Continue reading

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Despite Christchurch Massacre and Others, Trump Refuses to Join ‘Unprecedented’ Global Effort to Tackle Racist Extremism Online

“To be honest, I do not understand the United States,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-15-2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron this week launched the Christchurch Call, a global initiative to combat online extremism. (Photo: @JaneCoombsNZ/Twitter)

The White House announced Wednesday it will not join a global initiative, launched in the wake of a massacre in New Zealand two months ago, to tackle racist and extremist online content.

“By not standing alongside other world leaders to fight hate,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center in response, “President Trump has shown once again that he doesn’t understand the importance of white supremacy in fueling terrorism.” Continue reading

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On #WorldPressFreedomDay, a Reminder: Only 9% of Humanity Lives in Nations That Respect Reporters’ Rights

“This situation is very worrying for journalists and above all for all those human beings who are being deprived of their right to information.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-3-2019

Journalists and advocates for free expression and information celebrated #WorldPressFreedomDay Friday. (Image: RSF)

As the international community celebrated #WorldPressFreedomDay on Friday, a leading global nonprofit warned that only 9 percent of humanity lives in countries with good or satisfactory levels of press freedom.

Journalism advocacy group Reporters Sans Frontières—also known as RSF, or Reporters Without Borders—highlighted the detail from its annual World Press Freedom Index, published last month. Based on the report’s findings, the journalism group produced a color-coded map that shows how each country on Earth generally regards free expression and information. Continue reading

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Facebook’s Hire of Patriot Act Co-Author Raises Questions on Company’s Commitment to Privacy

“What could go wrong?”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-24-2019

Sometimes I feel like, somebody’s watching me. (Image:Flickr)

Social media giant Facebook made a major hire Monday, bringing on lawyer Jennifer Newstead as the company’s general counsel—a move that generated criticism due to Newstead’s work two decades ago drafting the Patriot Act.

The company announced the hire by citing Newstead’s extensive work in government. Most recently, Newstead acted as the legal adviser for the State Department. Continue reading

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US Slides Down Annual Press Freedom Ranking, With Watchdog Calling Nation ‘Problematic’ for Reporters’ Rights

“Never before have U.S. journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security firms for protection.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-18-2019

The U.S. slid down a yearly list ranking press freedom in nations around the world, falling three places to number 48. (Image: Reporters Without Borders)

An annual accounting of press freedoms around the world describes an “intense climate of fear” in which reporters are being forced to work, calling out world leaders like U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for their attacks on the media.

Trump’s repeated statements that journalists are “the enemy of the people” and his threats to roll back their right to report political news have been a contributing factor in the United States’ descent to 48th place in the Press Freedom Index, which was released Thursday by Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF). Continue reading

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Just Like Trump, Media Outlets Rarely Label Far-Right Attacks ‘Terrorism’: Study

A rare exception in the glaring trend came last month when New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was swift to characterize the massacre in Christchurch as the work of a white nationalist terrorist

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-10-2019

Governor Wolf Joins Pittsburgh in mourning after the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. Photo: Governor Tom Wolf/flickr

A new study shows that media outlets frequently echo the instinct of political leaders like President Donald Trump when they refuse to label the violence of far-right assailants as “terrorism” while showing significantly less reluctance if an attack was carried out by an Islamic extremist.

The British media monitoring firm Signal AI found that most news sources are quick to draw links between incidents identified as “Islamist” attacks and terrorism, but are far less likely to do the same when an attack suspect is linked to far-right ideologies like white nationalism. Continue reading

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The Peach State or ‘Banana Republic’? Critics Howl Over Georgia GOP’s Proposal to Target Journalists With Secretive Ethics Panel

“It’s not the government’s role to tell journalists how to do their jobs. This bill is unnecessary state meddling with the press.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-4-2019

Georgia state Rep. Andy Welch proposed a bill that would establish a “journalism ethics board” in the state. (Photo: @andywelchga/Twitter)

Press freedom advocates on Thursday warned of dangers posed by a bill put forward by Republicans in Georgia that would create a journalism ethics board in the state and subject reporters to fines if they don’t comply with the new rules.

The so-called “Ethics in Journalism Act” (H.B. 734) would establish an “independent” ethics board with members from the journalism profession selected by the University of Georgia, which is run by the state. The board would create “canons of ethics,” set up a system for issuing and investigating complaints about journalists and news outlets, and issue advisory opinions on whether news organizations have violated laws. Continue reading

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