ICE blogs

September 13, 2016

US investigative journalist charged

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, politics, human rights — news_editor @ 10:42 am

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for prosecutors in the US state of North Dakota to drop all criminal charges against broadcast journalist Amy Goodman, who hosts the global news programme Democracy Now! She faces criminal trespass charges following her reporting on protests against the construction of an oil pipeline opposed by Native American tribes in the region.

Goodman filmed security guards using dogs and pepper spray to disperse protesters. Morton County Sherriff’s Department issued a statement saying protesters had entered private land after breaking down a fence while Democracy Now! reported on its website that an officer from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation acknowledged in an affidavit that Goodman was seen in the video identifying herself as a journalist and interviewing protesters. If convicted, Goodman could face a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail.

Carlos Lauría, senior programme coordinator for the Americas at CPJ, said: ‘This arrest warrant is a transparent attempt to intimidate reporters from covering protests of significant public interest.’ The complaint also cites Cody Charles Hall, an organiser of the protest, who was arrested on September 9, denied bail and jailed over the weekend, according to press reports.

Energy Transfer Partners hopes the pipeline will carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, across land close to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Protesters say the project risks polluting the water supply, and would run through burial sites and other locations they hold sacred.

See https://www.cpj.org/2016/09/arrest-warrant-for-muckraking-us-journalist.php

June 9, 2016

Ethics teaching focus for conference

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:11 pm

‘Teaching ethics: Why bother?’ is the title of the annual conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics, to be held on 21 October 2016, at the Frontline Club, London W2 1QJ.

Ethics is now well established as a compulsory subject in the many communication studies degrees (journalism, public relations, media production, etc). Yet while universities might encourage ethical working routines in their students, very often when the student arrives in the workplace they find they have very little influence on the overall operation. Communication organisations tend to be hierarchically structured with power tending to be held by a small group of executives (often male) at the top. Why then bother with ethics at universities?

The conference aims to provide a space for timely reflection on some of the many issues confronting teachers of ethics in universities. Topics might then include:

• My curriculum: Highlighting innovative ways of teaching ethics.
• A critique of the major textbooks in the field.
• What examples of ‘good’ practice are used?
• Critiquing professionalism: the pros and cons of industry codes.
• What place has the political economy critique in ethical debate?
• Best practice: Promoting inclusivity and challenging discrimination.
• The ‘guest speaker from the industry’ syndrome: Pros and cons.
• Using Facebook, Twitter as teaching aids: The ethical issues.
• The dangers of anglo-centrism: Promoting the international perspective.
• Post-Edward Snowden revelations: Transforming the privacy/confidentiality debate.
• Beyond the free press myth: Ethics and the Secret State.
• How important is it to cover the classics (Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Bentham, Mill, MacIntyre, Rawls etc)?
• Considering women war reporters: Beyond male stereotypes.

These possible issues – and more – will be of interest to those teaching in a range of disciplines: media ethics, journalism, public relations, political communication, media sociology, surveillance studies.

Please send 200-word abstracts to Dr Fiona Thompson, director of ICE (f.thompson287@gmail.com) by 1 July 2016.

Special issue of ES

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:10 pm

A special double issue of Ethical Space, co-edited by Judith Townend (Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London), Denis Muller (University of Melbourne) and Richard Lance Keeble (University of Lincoln), has been published in print and online (open access).

Titled ‘Beyond clickbait and commerce: The ethics, possibilities and challenges of not-for-profit media’, it features discussion and research papers by a range of academics considering alternative models for funding news and journalism around the world.

Authors include Mel Bunce (City University London); Lyn McGaurr (University of Tasmania ); Dave Harte (Birmingham City University); Jocelyn E. Williams (Unitec Institute of Technology); Clare Cook (University of Central Lancashire); Jonathan Heawood (IMPRESS/UEA). Details: Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics, Vol. 13, Nos 2 and 3. Available at http://www.communicationethics.net/journal/v13n2-3/v13n2-3.pdf

June 8, 2016

How the press hides the global crimes of the West

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 10:00 am

Richard Lance Keeble

One of the essential functions of the corporate media is to marginalise or silence acknowledgement of the history – and continuation – of Western imperial aggression. The coverage of the recent sentencing in Senegal of Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad, for crimes against humanity, provides a useful case study.

The verdict could well have presented the opportunity for the media to examine in detail the complicity of the US, UK, France and their major allies in the Middle East and North Africa in the appalling genocide Habré inflicted on Chad during his rule – from 1982 to 1990. After all, Habré had seized power via a CIA-backed coup. Indeed, while coverage of Chad has been largely missing from the British corporate media, so too was the massive, secret war waged over these eight years by the United States, France and Britain from bases in Chad against Libyan leader Colonel Mu’ammar Gaddafi.(1)

By 1990, with the crisis in the Persian Gulf developing, the French government had tired of Habré’s genocidal policies while George Bush senior’s administration decided not to frustrate France in exchange for co-operation in its attack on Iraq. And so Habré was secretly toppled and in his place Idriss Déby was installed as the new President of Chad.

Yet the secret Chad coups can only be understood as part of the United States’ global imperial strategy. According to William Blum, in his seminal history of the CIA, Killing Hope (2003), since 1945 the US has intervened in more than 70 countries – in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia.(2) Britain, too, has engaged militarily across the globe in virtually every year since 1914. Most of these conflicts are conducted far away from the gaze of the corporate media.(3)

Reporting of the Habré sentencing has been predictably consistent across all the leading newspapers in the UK and US. Thus the focus has been on the jubilant reactions of a few of the victims of Habré’s torture and rape, on the comments from some of the human rights organisations involved for many years in the campaign to bring the Chad dictator to justice – and on the fact that it was the first time an African country had prosecuted the former head of another African country for massive human rights abuses. Only a tiny part of the reporting has mentioned the West’s role in the genocide. None of the reporting has placed the Chad events in the broader context of US/Western imperial aggression.

The story in the Guardian, by Ruth Maclean, was typical. Some 21 paragraphs were devoted to the report (‘After 26-year wait, victims of Chad’s former dictator weep tears of joy as he is convicted’). But only in the last one (appearing almost as an after-thought) was there any mention of US complicity: ‘The US State department and the CIA propped up Habré, sending him weapons and money in return for fighting their enemy, Muammar Gaddafi.’

In a follow-up editorial on 1 June 2016, the Guardian again left mentioning the West’s role until the last par: ‘Many questions still remain unanswered, including several concerning the responsibility or complicity of Western countries, such as France and the US, which actively supported Habré during the cold war years, turning a blind eye to his methods.’

The Telegraph adopted a similar approach. Aislinn Laing, based in Johannesburg, reported briefly: ‘Mr Habré, 73, is a former rebel leader who took power by force in Chad in 1982 and was then supported by the US and France to remain at the helm as a bulwark to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.’ (4)

Adam Lusher, in the Independent, devoted just eight words to contextualising the trial: ‘Hissène Habré was once backed by America’s Cold War-era CIA.’ (5)

In the New York Times, buried in par. 24 of a 27-paragraph report by Dionne Searcey are these words: ‘Mr. Habré took power during a coup that was covertly aided by the United States, and he received weapons and assistance from France, Israel and the United States to keep Libya, to the north of Chad, and Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, then the Libyan leader, at bay.’

Similarly, in Paul Schemm’s 23-paragraph report in the Washington Post, his par. 15 reads: ‘Supported by the United States and France in his wars against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, Habré was accused of killing up to 40,000 people and torturing hundreds of thousands.’(6)

Neither the Los Angeles Times (7) nor the Belfast Telegraph (8) could find any space to mention the West’s complicity.

Intriguingly, the final paragraph in the Guardian’s report also included a statement by John Kerry, the US secretary of state, which ‘acknowledged his country’s complicity’: ‘As a country committed to the respect for human rights and the pursuit of justice, this is also an opportunity for the United States to reflect on, and learn from, our own connections with past events in Chad.’ But how hypocritical is this rhetoric given the fact that the US today is still supporting human rights offenders across the globe – including the current dictator of Chad, Idriss Déby. Moreover, the Western powers, the US and France in particular, are using Chad as a major base for their covert military operations in Africa.(9)

A number of newspapers have commented on how the case set an important precedent for holding high-profile human rights abusers to account in Africa. Yet there has been little mention of the extraordinary background. For in June 2003, the US actually warned Belgium that it could lose its status as host to Nato’s headquarters if the Habré case went ahead on the basis of a 1993 law, which allowed victims to file complaints in Belgium for atrocities committed abroad. Campaigners determined to bring Habré to justice only then shifted their attention to Africa.

William Blum comments in the ‘Introduction’ to Killing Hope (p. 13) on the US’s secret wars: ‘With a few exceptions, the interventions never made the headlines or the evening TV news. With some, bits and pieces of the stories have popped up here and there, but rarely brought together to form a cohesive and enlightening whole; the fragments usually appear long after the fact, quietly buried within other stories, just as quietly forgotten…’
How perfectly this both predicts and explains the corporate media’s coverage of the Chad dictator, Hissène Habré!

Notes
(1)See Targeting Gaddafi: Secret Warfare and the Media, by Richard Lance Keeble, in Mirage in the Desert? Reporting the ‘Arab Spring’, edited by John Mair and Richard Lance Keeble, Abramis, Bury St Edmunds, 2011 pp 281-296
(2)http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Blum/US_Interventions_WBlumZ.html
(3) http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/ng-interactive/2014/feb/11/britain-100-years-of-conflict
(4) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/30/court-to-rule-on-torture-trial-of-hissne-habr-africas-pinochet/
(5) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/hissene-habre-chad-former-president-africa-pinochet-found-guilty-of-crimes-against-humanity-a7056186.html
(6)https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-landmark-trial-former-chad-dictator-found-guilty-of-crimes-against-humanity/2016/05/30/5572e47a-2661-11e6-8329-6104954928d2_story.html
(7) http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-chad-dictator-guilty-20160530-snap-story.html
(8) http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/former-chad-dictator-hissene-habre-given-life-term-for-human-rights-crimes-34757817.html
(9) http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176070/tomgram:_nick_turse,_america’s_empire_of_african_bases/

- Richard Lance Keeble is Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln. He has written and edited 36 books including Secret State, Silent Press (John Libbey, 1997), a study of the US/UK press coverage of the 1991 Gulf conflict.

May 27, 2016

Film wins recognition

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 5:25 pm

Pratap Rughani, a member of the executive group of the Institute of Communication Ethics, has come runner-up for the ‘Best Practice Research Portfolio’ award from the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS) for his film Justine (http://Justine http://screenworks.org.uk/archive/volume-6/justine]Justine) and the research content it developed.

The film, a portrait of a young woman who rarely speaks, has featured at many film festivals (including the Human Rights Film Festival in Denver, Colorado). It seeks to develop new forms of filming and post-production based on a method of navigating the ‘art of not knowing’ with empathic looking and listening.

Dr Rughani, who is Reader and Course Leader in the Documentary Film MA at the London College of Communication, is now aiming to create a free online teaching resource to help students acquire a clear insight ‘into the ethics and research context of art and film practice that asks challenging questions about how to represent radically different Others’.

April 28, 2016

Media’s role in challenging ‘criminal state’

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, politics, new books — news_editor @ 1:07 pm

A call for publics to use social media technologies to assert themselves against established authority is made by Dan Hind in his latest publication, The public and the mass.

Hind, author of the acclaimed The return of the public, argues: ‘The public forming platforms would need to have a very different character from, say, Facebook. Rather than monetising their consumers from panoramic surveillance they would generate defined data outputs that would be shared among those who create them. The design would enable us to learn more about what people think, to change minds and have our own minds changed. The emphasis would be on meaningful privacy, public transparency and equality in speech.’

To help inspire a new movement promoting constitutional liberties, Hind looks back to the colonies in the period leading up to the American Revolution. ‘They did so through a discussion of constitutional forms using public meetings and cheap and easily pirated pamphlets. It was a matter of forming new publics for the purpose of creating a new political order.’ Their activities were centred on the publishing industry and epitomised by Thomas Paine’s donation of his royalties from Common sense (1776) to the cause of ending royalty on the continent.
‘Is it so far-fetched to imagine that another wave of public formation, drawing on the capabilities of the software sector and intent on securing individual liberty might develop and distribute the powers needed in a new constitutional order?’

Hind begins by highlighting the distinction made by the celebrated American sociologist C. Wright Mills (1916-1962) between the mass society and the public: ‘The idea of a mass society suggests the idea of an elite of power. The idea of the public, in contrast, suggests the liberal tradition of a society without any power elite, or at any rate with shifting elites of no sovereign consequence.’ Elites play down the constitutional significance of their effective control over the communications system. And they panic when ‘the nature of the relationship between elite rule and the communications system threatens to become visible’ as happened following the Chelsea Manning/WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden/Guardian revelations.

The files did not reveal isolated examples of state criminality. ‘They set out the substantial integration of the state and the corporate sector, including the major media, around a project encompassing aggressive war, torture, and the indiscriminate seizure of private information.’
But in the end, Hind is hopeful: ‘The same technologies that permit both mass surveillance and the massive infiltration of the citizen body can be used both to clarify public opinion and establish its superiority over private interests and secret bureaucracies.’

• The public and the mass, Commonwealth; see http://commonwealth-publishing.com/shop/the-public-and-the-mass/.

April 16, 2016

EU rulings ‘put press freedom at risk’

New EU rulings on whistleblowers and ‘right to be forgotten’ laws put press freedom at risk, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The passage of the European Trade Secrets Protection Act is particularly controversial. A number of MEPs and members of the press including Elise Lucet, a France2 investigative journalist whose petition against the Bill gathered half a million signatures, warned: ‘The trade secrets directive still raises doubts as to whether journalists and whistleblowers are appropriately protected.’ And Martin Pigeon, of the non-governmental organisation, Corporate Europe Observatory, told the BBC: ‘It would have potentially criminalised the release of Panama Papers.’

The Data Protection Package also raises concerns. Despite assurances from the commission, the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, under which search engines can be ordered to de-list entries from web searches, has been carried over under a ‘right to erasure’ provision. According to George Brock, Professor of Journalism at City University London: ‘Contrary to what is often claimed, the [new] regulation does not solve the problems caused by the Google Spain case of 2014 which established the right for individuals to ask major search engines, such as Google, for internet links to be taken down if certain conditions are met. Instead of a specific remedy to an identifiable problem, the regulation is sweeping in its scope and powers and its approach to weighing free expression against privacy remains unbalanced.’

Members of the press in EU countries are already facing challenges, with Germany considering using the law against insulting a country’s leader to bring charges against a television comedian for allegedly insulting the Turkish president, and a photojournalist in Spain being fined €601 under the country’s so-called gag law after posting a photograph of a policeman making an arrest. In France, photojournalist Maya Vidon-White has been charged under a law banning the publication of photographs showing victims of terror attack, according to Associated Reporters Abroad.

• See Jean-Paul Marthoz at https://cpj.org/blog/2016/04/eu-rulings-on-whistleblowers-and-right-to-be-forgo.php

March 1, 2016

Arab journalists bear the brunt of press freedom

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 12:37 am

Muhamed Hassan outlines the plight of Arab journalists fighting for media freedom

According to an independent Jordanian centre which aims for the protection of journalists and press freedom in the Middle East, the year 2015 proved dangerous for media staffers: 58 journalists died in 19 Arabic states, with 30 of them killed by Daesh, 69 journalists were kidnapped, and 3,863 violations were committed against them. It confirms that Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia as the most dangerous countries for journalists.

Meanwhile, a quick look at the headlines of the two press freedom groups, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) shows how serious the situation is for journalists in Iraq:

1. Mounting deadly danger for journalists in Iraq – 11 May 2015;
2. Journalists targeted for covering anti-corruption protests – 12 October 2015;
3. Kurdish security forces unleash wave of terror on media – 17 October 2015.

Recently, the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) in Iraq, revealed that some media teams for Al Hura and Rudaw news outlets were attacked, with their equipment damaged, by official military personnel in recently liberated Ramadi despite obtaining permission to cover their work. JFO wants Iraqi ministries of defence and interior, and international human rights organisations to investigate these incidents.

No doubt the hopes of the ‘Arab Spring’ to usher in democracy and transparency in the Middle East have fizzled out so fast that nothing seems to have changed except that the politicians were evasive enough to camouflage the new era with broken promises.

Many Arab countries are plagued with the emergence of organised terrorism, and the process of democracy has had a battering at the hands of old and newly formed dictators and militant groups.

Journalists are the lifeblood of a truly democratic society. Without their investigative work, politicians and influential figures would find it easy to ride roughshod over the masses. They help shed light on the malpractice of those who are in power.

But to achieve that, they are harassed, kidnapped, imprisoned and murdered, and as long as the Middle East remains volatile and unstable, the battle for press freedom will remain a daily fight.

• See https://immersedinthinking.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/arab-journalists-bear-the-brunt-of-press-freedom/

December 12, 2015

Charles Gerald Fraser, pioneering black journalist, dies

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 7:56 pm

Charles Gerald Fraser, pioneering New York Times journalist of Afro-Caribbean American heritage, has died in New York, aged 90. Amongst his many notable assignments, he reported on Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech in Washington in 1963, taught generations of reporters at the Columbia School of Journalism that diversity matters, and entered the 2015 Hall of Fame of the US Black Journalists’ Association earlier this year — writes Thomas L Blair, editor/publisher, Chronicleworldwordpress.com; thomb91@gmail.com.

December 2, 2015

Media monopolies rule!

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, media policy, journalism — news_editor @ 6:38 pm

Five companies account for more than 80 per cent of local newspaper titles in the UK – more than four times the combined number of titles published by the remaining 56 publishers – and 85 per cent of revenue.

These startling figures appear in a new report, Noose tightens around the news, by the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom. Trinity Mirror has just bought up the Local World group for £154 million, making it the biggest operator in the field by far. ‘It will dominate the market like none has before, with a combined weekly circulation of 9 million copies of 36 daily newspapers, eight franchises to produce Metro freesheets, 88 weekly paid-for newspapers, five Sunday newspapers and 43 weekly free newspapers. The next two largest regional press publishers, Newsquest and Johnston Press, each have weekly circulations of around 5 million.’

Local World was created only three years ago as a buyout of two existing groups: Northcliffe Newspapers and Iliffe News and Media, and was then valued at £100 million. Last year it recorded an operating profit of £39 million on a turnover of £221 million. The CPBF report comments: ‘This is the local paper industry that is supposed to be loss-making and moribund.’

In commercial television, the national company ITV has bought up Ulster Television in Northern Ireland. ‘The deal is the penultimate step in the destruction of the ITV network as originally set up as a counterbalance to the BBC. Of the 15 original regional franchises only one – STV in Scotland – now survives.’

The CPBF expresses concern that there has been no intervention by any regulatory body over these takeovers. ‘The case for regulatory action gets stronger and stronger.’

Monopolies rule throughout the media. Two companies have almost 40 per cent of all commercial local analogue radio licences and control two-thirds of all commercial digital stations. On the internet, UK search is dominated by Google while the most popular apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook, itself the most popular social media site.

‘This concentration of media ownership creates conditions in which wealthy individuals and organisations can amass huge political and economic power and distort the media landscape to suit their interests and personal views.’

• Free Press, journal of Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, 23 Orford Road, London E17 9NL; 07729 846 146; freepresspbf.org.uk

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