Report: Here are the 10 worst countries for censorship

On Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists released a report ranking the “10 Most Censored Countries.” This year, Eritrea ranked No. 1. and Cuba ranked in the tenth spot. The report, which used measurements on Internet restrictions, the presence of independent media and license requirements for journalists, among others, found that similar censorship tactics are used among the countries.

The tactics used by Eritrea and North Korea are mirrored to varying degrees in other heavily censored countries. To keep their grip on power, repressive regimes use a combination of media monopoly, harassment, spying, threats of journalist imprisonment, and restriction of journalists’ entry into or movements within their countries.

Imprisonment is the most effective form of intimidation and harassment used against journalists. Seven of the 10 most censored countries—Eritrea, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iran, China, and Burma—are also among the top 10 worst jailers of journalists worldwide, according to CPJ’s annual prison census.

Read more

BBC website blocked throughout China


The BBC’s website has been subjected to “deliberate censorship” across China in the wake of its coverage of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution, the network reports.

Weeks ago, the BBC reported that Instagram appeared to be blocked in China, and phrases like “Occupy Central” and “Hong Kong students” were hidden on Twitter searches.

The BBC notes that it has been the subject of “intermittent blackouts” in China while reporting on the country.

Also on Wednesday, Reuters reported that a Chinese official in Hong Kong told foreign journalists to report on the ongoing Umbrella Revolutions demonstrations “objectively”.

Related: Kristen Hare’s Twitter list of journalists covering the Umbrella Revolution

The BBC’s website was most recently blocked in April 2012, during the network’s coverage of activist Chen Guangcheng’s escape, according to the BBC. Read more

Medical Marijuana Ads

Gubernatorial candidate bars student journalists from marijuana presser

Student Press Law Center

Student journalists at Columbia College Chicago were turned away from an Illinois gubernatorial candidate’s press conference about medical marijuana because they weren’t considered part of the “working press,” Michael Bragg reports for the Student Press Law Center:

A press representative for Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor, told the Columbia College students and their professor, Curtis Lawrence, that the press conference on medical marijuana was open only to the “working press.” Rauner, who is running against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, would not talk to the students, either.

Lawrence told the SPLC he asked Rauner to talk to the students as he was leaving the conference, but he said the candidate ignored him, not meeting his eyes before he was “whisked down the hallway.”

The students wanted to attend the presser for “Covering Politics,” a course at Columbia College Chicago that features live event coverage, Lawrence told the SPLC. Read more


High school won’t allow student to write about medical marijuana

The Ledger

Lakeland, Fla., high school senior Abbey Laine wanted to write an article about medical marijuana for student magazine the Bagpipe. Her journalism teacher, Janell Marmon, told her she couldn’t do it, Greg Parlier writes in Lakeland newspaper The Ledger.

Frank Webster, who heads the school’s Multimedia Communications Academy, told Parlier Laine’s proposed article “does not fit our audience” and that “We are primarily about marketing and (being) a mouthpiece for Lakeland High and Harrison School of the Arts.” The school’s principal, Arthur Martinez, sided with the teachers, Parlier writes. Read more

China Citizens Movement Trial

Covering China: for foreign and domestic press, self-censorship’s the threat

A plainclothes policeman, center, tries to block a foreign journalist filming while police detain the supporters of Xu Zhiyong near the No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing Wednesday. Xu, a legal scholar and founder of the New Citizens movement, is on trial facing a charge organzing a crowd to disrupt public order. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

It’s not easy being a journalist in China these days.

Chinese reporters are facing new government restrictions, including forced training in Marxism and a new written “ideology” exam. Some, pushing the investigative envelope, have been detained, demoted and fired. Bloggers have been arrested under a new law that forbids rumor-mongering.

Meanwhile, foreign journalists have had visa renewals held up by the government, with the threat of expulsion. The standoff grew so contentious that Vice President Joe Biden had to make a personal appeal to China’s president before last-minute visas were issued earlier this month. Read more


Border newspaper stops covering cartels after repeated attacks

Los Angeles Times | Committee to Protect Journalists | Texas Observer | Wired

Escalating cartel violence in Mexico has led to bouts of self-censorship among journalists fearing reprisals, but few so prominently as Nuevo Laredo’s El Mañana, which has decided to quit reporting on local cartel violence altogether.

The Los Angeles Times’ Molly Hennessy-Fiske writes that since the paper’s editor Roberto Mora Garcia was killed in 2004, there have been a number of attacks on the paper’s journalists and offices, leading to the extreme measure.

Two years later, armed men shot up the Nuevo Laredo office, leaving a reporter paralyzed. Afterward, the paper installed bulletproof glass and fortified walls.

Read more

China blocks NYTimes.com and related news coverage of prime minister’s massive wealth

New York Times | Washington Post
The Chinese government blocked all access to The New York Times website from computers in the country Friday after the Times reported on the prime minister’s family accumulating massive wealth.

The Times reported that Wen Jiabao’s relatives have assets worth at least $2.7 billion, much of it hidden from public knowledge:

In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. Untangling their financial holdings provides an unusually detailed look at how politically connected people have profited from being at the intersection of government and business as state influence and private wealth converge in China’s fast-growing economy.

Read more

South African press club asks public to wear black in opposition to ‘secrecy bill’

BusinessDay | News24 | Bizcommunity
The National Press Club of South Africa is asking the country’s citizens to wear black on Tuesday to oppose a bill that the National Assembly is expected to vote on that day.

The South African Press Association explains what some critics call “the secrecy bill”:

If the bill is passed the media will not be able to claim it acted in the public interest if it violated or was party to the violation of a law, or published classified information to substantiate a report on, for example, malpractice or corruption in government.

Violators could face up to 25 years in jail for some offenses. The problem, of course, is that the government decides what information can and can’t be published. Critics have called the legislation the “secrecy bill” and claim the law is too broadly-written. Read more


Twitter confirms it is being blocked in Egypt as political protests erupt

Several updates from Twitter’s official public relations account @TwitterGlobalPR on Tuesday night corroborate earlier reports that the service is being blocked from use inside Egypt.

“We can confirm that Twitter was blocked in Egypt around 8am PT today. It is impacting both Twitter.com & applications.

“Re Egypt block: We believe that the open exchange of info & views benefits societies & helps govts better connect w/ their people.”

Neal Ungerleider wrote Tuesday at Fast Company that protests in Egypt have erupted in the wake of the recent revolution in Tunisia.

Ungerleider reports that social media outlets such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are being used to organize the protests.

This has led to government attempts to slow communications by shutting down cell phone towers. Prior to Twitter being blocked, it was an outlet for sharing information:

“While access to Twitter via mobile phones is painfully slow in Egypt, users with access to computers have been posting stunning videos and photographs via Twitpic, Facebook and YouTube that are then being widely retweeted, reposted and reblogged by sympathizers around the world.”

For those outside the country, Ungerleider recommends two social media sources to watch:

“Readers interested in keeping up with the events are urged to follow Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy’s Twitter feed and the wall of the Egyptian opposition el-Shaheed’s Facebook account, which is posting minute-by-minute updates from hundreds of Egyptian Facebook users, including photos and news of the latest events.”

Read more