Russia jails freelance photog; Russian media blackout photos in protest (UPDATED)


UPDATE 24 October 2013: Russia has dropped piracy charges against the 30 Greenpeace activists, including photographer Denis Sinyakov. They are now charged with “hooliganism,” which seems to be similar to a charge of “disorderly conduct” in the US. Lenta has the news in Russian.

UPDATE 29 September 2013: There’s now website gathering signatures of support and money for the legal defense fund (via Yandex and Paypal) for Denis Sinyakov: FreedomDenisSinyakov.ru

Original: This week Russian security forces arrested 30 Greenpeace activists who were protesting oil drilling in the Arctic. The group, comprising people from 18 nations, used a boat to approach a drilling operation, and a few members tried to board the platform. The activists were arrested and may be charged with piracy in addition to other crimes (though Putin questions the piracy charge).

Among those arrested was freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov, a Redux contributing photographer, who now faces months in prison. Reporters Without Borders has condemned Sinyakov’s arrest and sentence, calling it an “unacceptable violation of freedom of information.” Sinyakov has worked as a photographer for Greenpeace in the past, in addition to regular assignment work for Reuters and AFP. Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy has a petition asking for the release of Sinyakov, and Greenpeace has a petition asking for the release of all the arrested activists.

In protest of Sinyakov’s arrest, major independent Russian media sites have blacked out their photos today. As seen in the screenshots above, Dozhd, Novaya Gazeta, Russian Reporter, Ekho Moskvy, Znak, Lenta, Russkaya Planeta, and others have joined the call to release the photographer.

Photographers, city council members sue NYC for systematic violations of civil rights during Occupy Wall Street

“The claims arise from a series of incidents in connection with Occupy Wall Street protests beginning in and around September 17, 2011 and continuing to the present day in which the City of New York in concert with various private and public entities have employed Officers of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) and others acting under color of state law, to intentionally and willfully subject Plaintiffs and the public to, among other things, violations of rights to free speech, assembly, freedom of the press, false arrest, excessive force, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution and, furthermore, purposefully obstructing Plaintiffs carrying out their duties as elected officials and members of the press, including oversight of the New York City Police Department.” -Rodriguez Et Al v. Winski Et Al. First Amended Complaint (pdf, scribd link)

We’ve written before about photographers being abused while covering protests in New York City. Now, photographers Stephanie Keith, Charles Meacham, the National Press Photographers’ Association (see their blog about the case), five NYC city council members, and others, have joined in a federal lawsuit against various New York City entities and officials, including Mayor Bloomberg, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and a number of identified and unidentified police officers, as well as JP Morgan Chase and other businesses in the Occupy Wall Street area, alleging that they engaged in the intentional obstruction of news-gathering activities, the business of elected officials, and Constitutionally-protected protest activities. The complaint can be read in it’s entirety here. In an NPPA press release about the lawsuit, a quotation summarizes photographer Stephanie Keith’s complaints against the city and others, “I joined this lawsuit because as a working journalist I’ve been arrested, thrown to the ground, hit with batons and yelled at by the NYPD while doing my job on assignment. I have seen my fellow journalists being treated this way as well. Why should journalists be subjected to trauma inducing harassment on the job?”

(via PDNpulse)

University of Georgia student newspaper staff walks out after pressure to take grip-and-grin photos and focus on ‘good’ news rather than journalism

“GOOD

  • Content that is ABOUT our audience doing something unique, helpful, outstanding, new,
    dramatic, ie scholarships for freshman.
  • Content that our readers have asked for, ie. how to save money, how to join a club, where to
    tind a job, what’s going on (events), what’s new. We have a list to start. Build the list by talking
    to our audience.

BAD

  • Content that catches people or organizations doing bad things. I guess this is ‘journalism’…

If in question, have more GOOD than BAD.” -Expectations of Editorial Director at The Red and Black, 8/15/12

Both Matt and I got our starts in student journalism, together at the official student newspaper at our university, and me at an unofficial student newspaper. One of the most tenuous holds of freedom of the press and speech in the US is in the classrooms of student newspapers, stemming from the landmark court case Hazelwood School District et al. v. Kuhlmeier et al., 484 U.S. 260 (1988). Today, students in the editorial staff at the University of Georgia who run the independent newspaper the Red and Black have walked out after new regulations (may require login to your google account) were imposed on the paper by the paper’s editorial board. At issue, the new regulations require more good news than bad, where bad means “content that catches people or organizations doing bad things” and refers to this sarcastically as “journalism” in scare quotes; require that the paper not print large photos or photos that don’t clearly show the subject; focus on attracting submitted content from readers; and print grip-and-grin photos of the paper’s audience. While the editorial board says these regulations are just a draft, now-former Editor-in-Chief Polina Marinova said in her public resignation letter, that all content to be published by the Red and Black would be reviewed by a non-student Editorial Director prior to publication online or in print. Former student newspaper staff have created their own online publication in the wake of their walkout, Red and Dead.Poynter has more coverage, as does the Student Press Law Center. The Red and Black has released a statement in response to the student staff walkouts.

The whole situation reads like a microcosm of what’s been happening at newspapers across the country as staffs are gutted and institutional knowledge is lost in favor of cheap and quick content.