More than 70 media justice groups wrote to Facebook, the ubiquitous social network, to challenge the company’s growing censorship of user-generated content. A disturbing chain of incidents has included the deactivation of Korryn Gaines account before she was shot by police, the removal of iconic photos of Agent Orange attacks by the US military in Vietnam, and the disabling of several Palestinian journalists accounts after Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg met with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Continue reading 73 Groups Challenge Facebook Censorship
A prisoner gag law in Philadelphia, apparently triggered by rage at a recent commencement speech at Goddard College by alumni, inmate and author Mumia Abu-Jamal, is being challenged in court as an unconstitutional abrogation of the right of speech. The legal challenge is being mounted by the Abolitionist Law Center and Prison Radio producer and former MA board member Noelle Hanrahan, who has been distributing Abu-Jamal’s commentaries for decades. Their press release below. Continue reading Muzzle Mumia Law Falls Outside the US Constitution
More than 60 civil liberties, digital rights, press freedom and public interest groups (including Media Alliance) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding a full, transparent account of the Justice Department’s targeting of journalists and whistleblowers. Continue reading 62 Public Interest Groups Demand Answers on AP Seizures
Urban Habitat has announced the suspension of Race Poverty and the Environment, their journal of 20+ years which chronicled movements for social justice across the Bay and across the United States.
Here is Media Alliance’s statement on the closure: Continue reading Urban Habitat Suspends Publication of Race Poverty and the Environment
Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-funded international news bureau, has been accused by its own editors and reporters of intentionally distorting coverage of conflict in Syria and Libya.
Canada’s Real News Network did a 3-part interview with Ali Hashem, a Beirut-based reporter for Al-Jazeera who recently quit his job. An editor at the same bureau later supported Hashem’s allegation and left his position as well. Continue reading Al-Jazeera – Under Fire for Distorted Coverage
The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks the performance of 180 countries according to a range of criteria that include media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.
Quick Summary: Top of the list are three Scandinavian countries, Finland which has been in first place for five years in succession, followed by Norway and Denmark. At the other end of the scale, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea were the worst performers.
The United States ranked 49th, down three places from 2014.
2015 World Press Freedom Index
High school students continue to find that their First Amendment rights are invisible to school administrators, despite years of struggle against censorship. In the ’60s, students at some schools published underground papers because their school-run papers were so heavily censored. In the ’70s and ’80s, a consensus grew that First Amendment protections extended to the official student press, and school newspapers were allowed to tackle controversial topics. But high school journalists found this freedom short-lived. In a 1988 case involving Hazelwood East High School near St. Louis, where student journalists wanted to publish stories on teenage pregnancy and divorce in the school newspaper, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled five to three that principals have the right to censor school papers. The majority opinion said that school-sponsored newspapers and similar activities are not intended as a public forum for student views, but are part of the curriculum and therefore subject to official control to ensure that they meet program purposes. After announcing the decision, Justice Byron R. White added that a school need not tolerate student speech that is incongruous with the educational goals of the institution–although the government could not censor similar speech outside school grounds. Continue reading STUDENTS STRUGGLE AGAINST CENSORSHIP, by Lian Cheun
Government-imposed online censorship has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years. And the current legislative trends from governments around the world point to a future filled with blocked websites. But simply stopping this from happening is only one part of the battle. When censorship does happen, we need a sign that clearly tells us that that’s the reason for a site’s inaccessibility.
Enter Tim Bray, a software developer at Google who has proposed a solution: a “451″ error code that displays anytime you visit a site blocked by the government. The number 451 is in honor of late author Ray Bradbury whose science fiction classic Fahrenheit 451, first published in 1950, warned of a dystopian world defined by government-imposed censorship (in the form of burning any house that contains books). Continue reading Fahrenheit 451