More online journalists in jail than print journalists

CJP - Journalists in jail 2008 census The Committee to Protect Journalists has released their 2008 census of jailed journalists, which includes the finding that there are now more online journalists imprisoned than print journalists. The most common charges are unrelated to journalism, charges that have been trumped up to make for a speedy incarceration. The CJP has also published detailed accounts of each imprisoned journalist.

And while the list of countries where these journalists are jailed is not surprising, there was a disturbing scene of police intimidation just last week against the former publisher of Liberation in France (via Foreign Policy’s blog).

United States ranked 36 in world for press freedom

Although the ACLU has just released their map of the United States’ “constitution-free zones” and although reports of photographers’ confrontations with police and security guards spread like wildfire on the internet, the United States has risen 12 spots to number 36 on Reporters Without Borders’ annual survey of international press freedom. Huffington Post has a nice summary of the report, which examines “every kind of violation directly affecting journalists (such as murders, imprisonment, physical attacks and threats) and news media (censorship, confiscation of newspaper issues, searches and harassment). And it includes the degree of impunity enjoyed by those responsible for these press freedom violations.”

The report explains the United States’ rise (tied with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, South Africa, Spain, and Taiwan, well below Iceland, Luxembourg, and Norway, and well above Iran, China, and North Korea) on the chart:

“The release of Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami Al-Haj after six years in the Guantanamo Bay military base contributed to this improvement. Although the absence of a federal “shield law” means the confidentiality of sources is still threatened by federal courts, the number of journalists being subpoenaed or forced to reveal their sources has declined in recent months and none has been sent to prison. But the August 2007 murder of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey in Oakland, California, is still unpunished a year later. The way the investigation into his murder has become enmeshed in local conflicts of interest and the lack of federal judicial intervention also help to explain why the United States did not get a higher ranking. Account was also taken of the many arrests of journalists during the Democratic and Republican conventions.”

(via lightstalkers)

China’s Olympic press freedoms set to expire Friday

M. Scott Brauer - Outside the Tiananmen Gate on the southern end of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China.

After unprecedented openness in the year preceding the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China’s relatively relaxed attitude toward the foreign media is set to end this Friday, October 17. While some continue to express concern that the Chinese government’s openness didn’t exist in practice–foreign media were prevented from entering Tibet during spring 2008 turmoil in the region and from what I saw there was little reporting done outside of the Games themselves, photographically (Kevin German’s “Outside the Rings” is a notable exception; and this is more a problem of what publishers would run rather than what photographers shot…)–the sheer number of foreign journalists in the capital during the Olympics was astonishing. See PDNPulse’s listing of some of the photographers blogging during the Games.

Foreign journalists working in China have urged the government to extend the press freedoms enjoyed prior to the Olympics. Indeed, these freedoms, among other issues, were touted by Olympic officials as a benefit of letting China host the Games. Prior to the relaxation of rules governing foreign media in the country, journalists were required to register with Chinese authorities in order to travel and report within the country and were always accompanied by government spokesmen; journalists requesting travel to report on sensitive issues were routinely denied permission to leave one of the 5 cities in which they were allowed to reside. The press freedoms at issue here, it should also be noted, never extended to China’s domestic media.