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The New Censorship

The New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom

Joel Simon
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  • Book Info
    The New Censorship
    Book Description:

    Journalists are being imprisoned and killed in record numbers. Online surveillance is annihilating privacy, and the Internet can be brought under government control at any time. Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, warns that we can no longer assume our global information ecosystem is stable, protected, and robust. Journalists -- and the crucial news they report -- are increasingly vulnerable to attack by authoritarian governments, militants, criminals, and terrorists, who all seek to use technology, political pressure, and violence to set the global information agenda.

    Reporting from Pakistan, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, and Mexico, among other hotspots, Simon finds journalists under threat from all sides. The result is a growing crisis in information -- a shortage of the news we need to make sense of our globalized world and to fight against human rights abuses, manage conflict, and promote accountability. Drawing on his experience defending journalists on the front lines, he calls on "global citizens," U.S. policy makers, international law advocates, and human rights groups to create a global freedom-of-expression agenda tied to trade, climate, and other major negotiations. He proposes ten key priorities, including combating the murder of journalists, ending censorship, and developing a global free-expression charter challenging criminal and corrupt forces that seek to manipulate the world's news.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53833-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Business, Sociology, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION A Murder in Pakistan
    (pp. 1-10)

    We arrived in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, on May 1, 2011, two days in advance of our scheduled meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari. Bob Dietz, a veteran journalist who had covered wars in Somalia and Lebanon and edited a magazine in Hong Kong before becoming the Asia program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, had done the advance work, arranging our schedule and preparing our agenda. Paul Steiger and I were the other members of the team. Steiger was the managing editor at theWall Street Journalin 2001 when the reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and killed in...

  5. ONE Informing the Global Citizen
    (pp. 11-31)

    Throughout the 150-year history of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Geneva-based humanitarian organization that helps to alleviate the suffering of war has relied on journalists to serve as its eyes and ears on the frontlines. In providing firsthand accounts of wars and humanitarian emergencies, journalists have often risked their lives—and sometimes died—because they believed that their reporting would lead to action. Sometimes, a single image refocused global priorities, like the footage of emaciated Bosnian refugees filmed by an ITN television crew in 1992 or the Pulitzer Prize–winning photo of a vulture hovering near...

  6. TWO The Democratators
    (pp. 32-62)

    Every dictatorship is based on the control and manipulation of information. Independent media is anathema, and journalists who challenge the state’s information hegemony are routinely jailed. In a functioning democracy, the power of government to limit speech and the press is circumscribed by law or tradition based on a recognition that an informed public debate is necessary to ensure accountability. But what if the leader of a country embraces democracy while working surreptitiously to subvert it?

    One of the most critical challenges to the media comes from a new generation of popularly elected autocrats—call them “democratators.” Deprived of an...

  7. THREE The Terror Dynamic
    (pp. 63-81)

    On February 4, 2005, the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena left the relative safety of her Baghdad hotel and traveled to a mosque near Baghdad University. Refugees from Fallujah—where the U.S. Marines had waged a brutal campaign to oust al-Qaeda-aligned militants—had taken shelter there, and Sgrena wanted to document their experience. But the Fallujah refugees were having none of it. “We don’t want anybody,” one of their leaders told Sgrena. “Why don’t you stay at home? What can this interview do for us?”

    Not getting the story was a bitter disappointment for the fifty-six-year-old veteran from the leftistIl...

  8. FOUR Hostage to the News
    (pp. 82-92)

    Within the terror dynamic, there was one, specific, horrifying risk that emerged with Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, spread to Iraq, then to Afghanistan as that conflict intensified, then to Syria, once the jihadi rebels gained the upper hand, with flare-ups in other hot spots like Somalia, Yemen, and Mali. That risk is the institutionalized and now ritualized kidnapping, featuring hostage videos to exert political influence and secure ransom—and, if things went badly, the grisly execution. The actual number of journalist kidnappings is relatively small, although this is impossible to calculate precisely since many are kept secret. But their effect...

  9. FIVE Web Wars
    (pp. 93-111)

    Founded in 1984 in the midst of the first wave of media reforms in China, the Guangdong-basedSouthern Weeklywas launched with a modest goal. According to the original editor Zuo Fang, the newspaper would not necessarily print the whole truth. But it would not publish lies.¹ Over the course of its existence, its ambitions have grown. TodaySouthern Weeklyis regarded as one the boldest and most innovative publications in China, renowned for its probing investigative reports on official corruption from every corner of the country.

    The newspaper periodically publishes “special editions” pegged to major events or holidays. As...

  10. SIX Under Surveillance
    (pp. 112-124)

    While governments around the world have very different perspectives on freedom of expression online and the nature of Internet governance, they are in fundamental agreement on the use of online surveillance for domestic law enforcement and international espionage. The indignation expressed by countries like Germany and Brazil in the aftermath of the NSA-spying revelations stem from the magnitude of the surveillance, not its existence. China, meanwhile, expressed no particular qualms. Its criticism is all about the U.S. double standard and the fact that it has used its control of Internet infrastructure to secure an unfair advantage in the online surveillance...

  11. SEVEN Murder Central
    (pp. 125-149)

    On July 17, 2013, the UN Security Council met to discuss the “protection of journalists in armed conflict” and, for the first time in its history, invited journalists themselves to provide testimony. Among those who spoke was Mustafa Haji Abdinur, a reporter from Somalia. “They call me a dead man walking,” he told the council’s members. “Day after day, I tell stories to the world of the people of Somalia, the troubles they face and their hopes for the future. But today I sit here having carried with me the stories of my comrades and colleagues, my fellow journalists who...

  12. EIGHT Journalists by Definition
    (pp. 150-171)

    Journalists who report the news are exercising a fundamental human right. But they are also contributing to the creation of more informed societies. In the best cases, they are exposing corruption and human rights violations, making it possible to address these abuses and contributing to global peace and security. This is why their work must be protected.

    The acceptance of this basic premise invites an inevitable question: Who, precisely, is a journalist? It’s a question that has never been easy to answer. Journalists, unlike lawyers or doctors, don’t require a license or in most cases a degree to practice their...

  13. NINE News of the Future (and the Future of News)
    (pp. 172-192)

    Just as struggles over trade routes and natural resources defined previous eras, control over information will grow as a source of conflict and strife in the decades ahead. The battles will be fought among governments and also between governments and institutions, corporations, and individuals. As technology makes information more and more accessible to people everywhere, political struggles—from elections to civil uprisings—will take place in both the physical and virtual space. It is likely that journalists will continue to be jailed and killed in record numbers. This is alarming, of course, but the news, as it were, is not...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 193-216)
  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 217-224)
  16. Index
    (pp. 225-236)