Monthly Archives: January 2017

Deep concerns regarding President Trump›s refugee and Muslim ban order

Trump's refugee and muslim ban order

Jan 29, 2017

“Deep concerns regarding President Trump’s refugee and Muslim ban order
The Association of North American Ethnic Journalists and Writers is hereby expressing deep regret over President Trump›s refugee and Muslim ban order enacted on Jan 28, 2017.

While we acknowledge the right of President to protect USA citizens, we believe that the policy will not achieve it›s intended security goals. It does however, humiliate immigrants and refugee.

The policy will spread hate within the traditionally tolerant nation of United State, and create farther divisions.

The elements that made United State of America a champion of liberal values were respect for freedom of speech and freedom of press. These elements made America a beacon of hope for countless immigrants prosecuted in their homeland.

Furthermore we appreciate Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau›s message pronouncing the welcoming of all refugees regardless of their belief and ethnicity.

It is our belief that the majority of American citizens are lovers of freedom and do not support President Trump’s refugee policy.»

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Donald Trump says journalists ‘are among the most dishonest human beings on earth’

trump

Washington: Describing journalists as the most dishonest human beings on Earth, US President Donald Trump has said he has been “running a war” with the media and warned them of consequences for falsely reporting that less number of people attended his inauguration.

“We had a massive field of people. You saw them. Packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field,” Trump said.
 
“I say, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, it looked like a million, million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there. They (media) said, Donald Trump did not draw well. I said, it was almost raining, the rain should have scared them away, but God looked down and he said, we’re not going to let it rain on your speech,” he said.
“Then I walked off and it poured right after I left. It poured. But, we have something that’s amazing because, it looked like a million and a half people. Whatever it was, it was. But it went all the way back to the Washington Monument. And I turn on — and by mistake I get this network, and it showed an empty field. And it said we drew 250,000 people,” he said.
“Now, that’s not bad, but it’s a lie. We had 250,000 people literally around in the little bowl that we constructed. That was 250,000 people. The rest of the 20-block area, all the way back to the Washington Monument, was packed. So we caught them, and we caught them in a beauty. I think they’re going to pay a big price,” Trump warned.
Trump was speaking at the CIA headquarters.
He told his top spy agency that this is the reason for him visiting the CIA headquarters as the media has portrayed that he has differences with the intelligence community.
“The reason you’re my first stop is that, as you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth,” Trump said amidst applause and laughter from the CIA officials attending his maiden address to them.
“They sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the number-one stop is exactly the opposite. They understand that too,” he said and then said that the crown strength of his inauguration was being accurately being written by the media.
Then Trump listed out another incident.
So a reporter wrote that Trump took down the bust, of Martin Luther King.
“It was right there. But there was a cameraman that was in front of it. So a reporter writes a story about I took down. I would never do that because I have great respect for Martin Luther King. But this is how dishonest the media is,” Trump alleged.
“I only like to say that because I love honesty. I like honest reporting. I will tell you, final time — when you let in your thousands of other people that have been trying to come in — because I am coming back — we’re going to have to get you a larger room,” Trump said indicating that he would have a bigger room for the White House press corps.
Meanwhile, in an unusual sharply worded remark, that took the White House press corps by surprise, new White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer blasted the media for what he considered “inaccurate and unfair” press coverage over the past 48 hours.
Prominent among these included tweets about a Martin Luther King bust in the Oval Office, and the crowd size coverage during presidential inauguration on Friday.
“The president is committed to unifying the country and that was the focus of his inaugural address. This kind of dishonesty in the media, the challenge of bringing about our nation together is making it more difficult,” Spicer said.
“There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable. And I am here to tell you that it goes two ways. We are going to hold the press accountable as well,” said the new White House Press Secretary.
Spicer, did not took any question but said he would hold his first news conference on Monday.
In an open display of anger and frustration against the media Spicer alleged photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way in one particular tweet to minimise the enormous support that it gathered on the National Mall.
“This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings had been used the protect the grass in the mall. That had the affect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing while in years past the grass eliminated this visual,” he charged.
Spicer said this was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the mall preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.
“Inaccurate numbers involving crowd size were also tweeted. No one had numbers because the National Park Service which controls the National Mall does not put any out,” he asserted.
Spicer said this applies to any attempts to try to count the number of protesters today in the same fashion.
“We do know a few things so let’s go through the facts. We know that from the platform where the president was sworn in to 4th Street holds about 250,000 people. From 4th street to the media tent is about another 220,000. And from media tent to the Washington Monument another 250,000 people,” he said.
“All of this space was full when the president took the oath of office. We know that 420,000 people used the DC metro public transit yesterday which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural,” he said.
Spicer said this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.
“Period. Both in person and around the globe,” he added.

Independent journalists wanted to raise their voices and support journalists in prison

Betre Yacob

In a country where state media dominates the airwaves and challenging the official line of the ruling party can land a reporter in jail, an independent journalist’s association was never going to be welcome.

But that’s exactly what Ethiopian journalist Betre Yacob tried to establish in January 2014, when he and a group of colleagues sought to officially register an independent press group called the Ethiopian Journalists Forum.

Government harassment immediately followed. That was nothing new for Betre, who had previously reported for the Ethiopian magazine Ebony and online news sites like the U.S.-based The Daily Journalist.

As he told The Huffington Post, members of Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service had already been following him and his computer and phone had been monitored. In 2013, someone from the federal police called him and accused him of being a terrorist and working against the government.

But in April 2014, police raided his home while he was out of the country at a conference. The Ethiopian Journalists Forum was being targeted, and Betre feared that by returning to Ethiopia he’d be jailed. After two years in exile in Kenya, he and his wife recently moved to the U.S. where he’s adapting to life on a new continent. Betre spoke with Global Journalist’s Domenico Zappone about his time working in one of Africa’s most restrictive press environments.

Global Journalist: How did you get in to journalism?

Betre: I started to work for this international humanitarian organization right after I graduated in Journalism and Communication at university. I’d been there for about four years…I started to write on sensitive issues as an independent journalist in 2011 and I also created a blog in 2012 to expose the human rights situation of the country.

GJ: What are conditions for independent journalists in Ethiopia?

Betre: Ethiopia is ruled by a minority group, which has control over everything, especially the economy. Oppression is a policy of the government and every aspect of life is encircled by government restrictions. To government officials, independent media is the enemy. The country is in a state of emergency [since October] and all social media networks are blocked.

Independent media organizations are now replaced by others that the government can control and it has become is extremely difficult to get fair and balanced information to millions of Ethiopians.

The Ethiopian government uses different techniques to silence independent voices and to avoid criticism. In addition to harassing and arresting journalists, it also imposes heavy taxes on independent media organization and printing houses. It also limits the number of printing houses in the country. There are now few printing houses and almost all of them are either state-owned or affiliated with the government.

In my life I really wanted to create awareness, I wanted the Ethiopian community to be aware of the problems and the terrible situations of the country, but the population is forced to listen to the government’s propaganda.

I always feel sick when I think of my country because I don’t know if the situation is going to change. The government controls everything, literally.

GJ: Tell us about some of the threats you faced.

Betre: In 2012 I began to receive warnings from National Intelligence and Security Service agents. They told me to stop writing and reporting about politics and human rights violations.

I had to resign from my job [in the regional city of Baher Dar] and move to Addis Adaba, the capital city of Ethiopia, where I continued writing and reporting for different media outlets.

Things got worse, I realized that my computer and other devices were under government surveillance and I was being followed. They started to tell me that they were watching me day and night and that they would have killed me if I continued to criticize the regime. That was the moment I realized that my life was at risk, and I was stressed and scared.

I decided to be strong and started working with other brave journalists. We wanted to improve the press’ situation in Ethiopia. There are few journalist associations in Ethiopia and most of them are affiliated with the government so they don’t care if journalists are arrested or harassed. As independent journalists we tried to tell the truth to other people, so we created the Ethiopian Journalist Forum in January 2014 in order to protect freedom of speech and freedom of press.

The government was not happy to see that independent journalists wanted to raise their voices and support journalists in prison or simply defend our rights. As a result, we were constantly targeted, and they continued to accuse my colleagues and me of being enemies of the country and the association is now criminalized and banned by the government.

In April 2014, I traveled to Angola to represent the EJP at an African Union conference about Human Rights. My colleagues in Ethiopia told me that the government had started another crackdown and we were the main target. My house was searched by the police and my documents were taken. Only then did I decide that I had to leave.

GJ: What does the government use to justify its actions against journalists?

Betre: They used to tell me that I was working for outlawed political opposition groups, but also human rights organizations that were against Ethiopia’s government.

Authorities define these organizations as “neo-liberalist” and enemies of the nations. I have been accused of working with Western governments and of conspiring with organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch to commit terrorism in the country and acting against the public good.

They try to alienate journalists from society by giving people a false image of them. The following step is to arrest them and then probably take other measures if necessary. So many journalists are now in prison and they’re suffering because we all know that they use torture in prisons.

GJ: How did you make the decision to leave?

Betre: After we founded the Ethiopian Journalist Forum the situation got very complicated, the government started to harass me. I was afraid. I didn’t want to struggle anymore. When I was in Angola for that conference and my association was one of the victims of the crackdown I realized I couldn’t go on like that and I decided to leave the country.

I didn’t have any choice, I needed to continue to share my thoughts and my views and still denounce what is currently happening in Ethiopia, but I couldn’t do it from inside the country. I needed to choose between being quiet, going to jail and facing the consequences or leaving everything behind starting a new life.

Digital dangers and online obstacles: Legal tips for journalists

jeff-professional3

It has always been risky for journalists to offend the powerful, rich and litigious. But until the digital age, American newspapers generally held their own: They rigorously checked facts and employed legal muscle to beat back bullies.

Today they are unprepared to fight, argues a 2016 paper by lawyer and Fortune staff writer Jeff John Roberts. As newspaper budgets have shrunk and some media outlets have moved to clickbait-based business models, in many cases the tenured editors who served as wise counselors and fact-checkers have been sacked. Mistakes are thus more likely.

“More journalists are publishing at a speed and in a fashion that is likely to invite legal trouble. These include reporters who perform ‘churnalism’ in the form of five or more superficial stories a day, or ‘hot takes’ that involve a writer with scant knowledge of a topic publishing a hasty piece of opinion or analysis,” explains Roberts in the paper, “Scribes Without Safety Nets: Teaching Law to Journalists in the Digital Era.”

Journalists, moreover, are unprepared for what Roberts calls “digital dangers.” They are not receiving training for a digital-first world at American journalism schools, Roberts contends in the paper, which he wrote as a Knight-Bagehot fellow at Columbia University: “The result is that it is easier today for news subjects to browbeat reporters with legal threats. A lack of legal resources can also produce a chilling effect in which news outlets steer away from the sort of reporting that could trigger a lawsuit in the first place.”

Indeed, these days there is no guarantee your publication will defend you against a deep-pocketed pugilist. Some freelancer contracts even include indemnity clauses, which place all liability on the writer.

Journalism curricula

Roberts used his legal training — he passed the bar in New York and Ontario — to review the curricula of nine American journalism schools willing to share their syllabi. The good news: Schools are teaching media law and have infrastructure they could expand. The bad news: He finds much of the material outdated and a “bias towards traditional print or broadcast reporting over online journalism.” Digital reporting is often treated like “an addendum to the core material,” something “faddish or amateur — rather than the digital platforms on which nearly every reporter works today.”

“The current curricula may have to be revised so as to prioritize the legal pitfalls in digital-first jobs,” writes Roberts, who suggests – in the paper and in a follow-up conversation with Journalist’s Resource below – some areas where journalism curricula should be expanded.

Encryption

Almost everyone today uses free social media platforms like Facebook or email services that are full of their personal information. What many don’t know is that these services can share their information with law enforcement agencies. The situation remains in flux.

Roberts explained to us that when you sign up for a service like Facebook, “you often forfeit your right to privacy because of the third-party doctrine” — whereby the terms of service offer the tech company extensive rights to your content. “Since you gave it to them, they can give your stuff to the cops without telling you.”

Journalists should know which companies resist subpoenas and how to protect online information, he added: “These days, a lot of it turns on encryption. While the law here is also in flux, it’s important for journalists to know about apps like Signal which is built in such a way that the company couldn’t turn over information about its users even if it wanted to.”

Twitter libel

Many journalists are active on Twitter, where it can be easy to make an off-hand, ill-tempered remark, or merely retweet one. Journalists need to understand the risks of “twibel” – the phenomenon of people filing defamation claims over tweets.

“Some argue that all tweets are intrinsically opinion and rhetoric, and shouldn’t be subject to libel, but courts don’t agree,” Roberts told us. “In the U.S. there have been a handful of ‘twibel’ settlements. In the UK, where libel law is draconian, a celebrity paid to settle a claim over a retweet.”

The “right to be forgotten”

In 2014 the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that an individual may request a search engine operator such as Google remove references to that individual. Some free speech advocates argue that the ruling, as currently interpreted, allow the rich and powerful to scrub the internet of any reported misdeeds. This debate is another that Roberts calls important for journalists to follow and understand.

“For a while the BBC reported whenever one of their stories got de-indexed by a right-to-be-forgotten request – this served, in effect, to create a new record of the event and made it visible again in search results,” Roberts said. “This seems like a good idea, especially in cases where the subject of the story is a powerful person using right-to-be-forgotten to cover up misdeeds. Journalists might also consider working with an organization like Internet Archive to prevent their work going down memory holes. Finally, the situation is fluid since there are cases in both Europe and at the Canadian Supreme Court as to whether courts can force results to be purged globally – i.e. a French court forces Google to delete search results not just on Google.fr but on Google.com, too.”

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Roberts recommends journalism schools offer training on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a 1984 anti-hacking statute that The New Yorker has called “the worst law in technology” and which the Department of Justice used to prosecute and jail a social media editor at Reuters. Journalists “could fall afoul of it by ‘scraping’ website data or performing other legitimate news-gathering activities,” Roberts warns in his paper.

“The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is a dated statute that law enforcement and private plaintiffs regularly use (and misuse) to punish a wide variety of computer related activities,” Roberts told us. “The web is full of raw data from corporate and government websites that can serve as the building block for all sorts of data-driven stories. But given the breadth and vague boundaries of the CFAA and its strictures against ‘unauthorized access,’ it is a law data journalists need to know about – especially since it’s a criminal statute.”

Teach yourself

We asked Roberts if he came across any favorite media law books in his research. “I wasn’t blown away by any of the journalism textbooks,” he said. “I think they should start integrating material from law professors like Eric Goldman and James Grimmelmann, both of whom have developed internet law casebooks they offer for free or for less than $10.”

Online resources about digital media law:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) publishes regular tips on defending civil liberties and privacy in the digital world.
For seven years until 2014, the Berkman Center for Internet and the Law at Harvard ran the Digital Media Law Project. It is defunct, for now, but the archives are still available online.
Check out our 2016 tip sheet on protecting yourself online.
Other Resources:

Roberts spoke with the Nieman Foundation about his study and also authored a post for Medium.
Roberts’s website.
A 2016 study by the Knight Foundation (a funder of Journalist’s Resource) found two-thirds of news executives say their industry is weaker in its ability to defend its free speech rights than it was a decade before. Fifty-three percent agreed with the statement that “news organizations are no longer prepared to go to court to preserve First Amendment freedoms.” Of those, 89 percent cited costs.

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