More journalists were killed, abused and subjected to violence in 2018

While murder murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudia Arabia in their Consulate in Turkey received a lot of media attention, attacks on journalists were quite widespread, with:

  • 80 killed
  • 3 missing
  • 60 held hostage
  • 348 detained

That’s alarming, and a record high.

Reporters Without Borders: WORLDWIDE ROUND-UP of journalists killed, detained, held hostage, or missing in 2018 

Although the number of journalists killed in 2017 was less than in previous years, 2018 saw the death toll of journalists rise to a shocking total of 80 journalists killed worldwide (including professional journalists, non-professional journalists and media workers). The number of professional journalists killed rose 15%, from 55 in 2017 to 63 in 2018.

The number of non-professional journalists also rose, from seven last year to 13 this year. Non-professional journalists play a fundamental role in the production of news and information in countries with oppressive regimes and countries at war, where it is hard for professional journalists to operate. In addition to these very alarming figures, there are ten other deaths that RSF is still investigating.

In all, 49 of these journalists (61% of the total) were deliberately targeted because their reporting threatened the interests of certain people in positions of political, economic, or religious power or organized crime. The cases of Ján Kuciak, a Slovak investigative reporter shot dead in his home on 21 February, and Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi columnist murdered in the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on 2 October, show how far some people will go to silence “troublesome” journalists.

Deadliest countries:

  • Afhaanistan 15
  • Syria 11
  • Mexico 9
  • Yemen 8
  • United States 6
  • India 6

The US features due to a single attack in Annapolis, Maryland when four journalists (and one other employee) were shot.

Two others were killed in an accident – a local TV anchor and cameraman, were killed by a falling tree while covering Subtropical Storm Alberto’s extreme weather in North Carolina in May.

Nearly half of the media fatalities were in countries not at war

The world’s five deadliest countries for journalists include three – India, Mexico, and for the first time the United States – where journalists were killed in cold blood although these countries were not at war or in conflict. Once again, Mexico was the deadliest of the countries not at war, with nine journalists murdered in 2018.

Journalism and media are essential components of a free and open society, so attacks on journalists are an attack on freedom.

CNN:  Journalists faced ‘unprecedented’ hostility this year, report says

The findings further highlight the volatility faced by journalists across the world over the past twelve months, a period which has seen high-profile murders and imprisonments as well as verbal attacks on the news media by key global figures, including US President Donald Trump.

“Violence against journalists has reached unprecedented levels this year, and the situation is now critical,” RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire said in a news release accompanying the report.

“The hatred of journalists that is voiced, and sometimes very openly proclaimed, by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” he added.

Politicians depend on journalists, but some act poorly when they receive media scrutiny.

Journalists and media are increasingly criticised – some of that criticism is justified, but generally attacks on media are self-interested attacks on a free and open society.

Whineston Peters not going to let ‘5 minute’ female journalists criticise Ardern

Peters has a big whine, especially against female journalists and shows himself as a sexist old shit who is intolerant of criticism.

“And we’re not going to stand by whilst a critique or a cabal of commentators, many who are women, bitterly lecture her .when they don’t know anything about her role or job or how well she’s doing.”

Peters has attacked and ridiculed journalists for as long as I can remember. He comes across as a cantankerous old shit who avoids answering questions when being interviewed. But his political successes are unlikely to have happened without the attention the media has given him.

In his opening remarks to the ‘Government Priorities Launch’ last Sunday one of his priorities was attacking the media.

The reason we retain the confidence of New Zealanders is because they see what the media filter seemingly cannot: we are a unified government determined to lead change to lift all New Zealanders’ prospects. Speaking on behalf of New Zealand First, we remain as committed as ever to making this coalition and government work. We also know what the political media does not.

This is highly ironic given that he is the main reason that then issue of disunity in the Government has come up, and it seems to be a primary thrust of Jacinda Ardern’s ‘Government Priorities’ PR party promotion last weekend.

A politician who things they know best should be scrutinised by the media. Peters seems to expect the media to be subservient to his vanity project and whines when they aren’t – he’s a lot like Trump in this.

Yesterday he went into whine overdrive: Winston Peters berates female critics of the Government.

Winston Peters:

What I’m not going to be prepared to stand by though, and is have pretty inexperienced, untrained political commentators who’ve been here 5 minutes lauding it over people that of course have got the bully pulpit of the pen and media.

They’re not going to win this battle.

Our job is to have, provide really sound government.

Our job is to ensure the Prime Minister gets all the backing in the world and she’s going to get that, and she’s getting that.

And we’re not going to let…stand by whilst a critique or a cabal of commentators, many who are women, bitterly lecture her…

Talking of bitter sounding lectures…

…when they don’t know anything about her role or job or how well she’s doing.

No word from Peters on what he might do about it, apart from whine.

He seems to have a problem with female journalists who don’t laud over him and Ardern.

 

How is he not going to let journalists critique the jobs he and Ardern are doing?

 

 

Legal action discredits coalition negotiations

NZH editorial: Peters’ suing of ex-ministers discredits negotiations

For two weeks last month, Winston Peters told the public he was negotiating in good faith with National and Labour, and asked the public to believe the country’s interest was uppermost in his concerns as he weighed up whether to support the incumbent Government for a fourth term, or install a Labour-led coalition.

It turns out he had initiated legal proceedings against leading National ministers the day before the election over the disclosure he had been receiving superannuation at the single rate for seven years while living with a partner.

This reignites publicity about the fact that an MP who has long championed superannuation was overpaid for a number of years, apparently without noticing he has geeing more than he was supposed to be getting.

Including journalists in his legal action also raise eyebrows.

It is disturbing that Peters seeks to have journalists reveal their sources through court discovery procedures. He evidently wants the court to order them to hand over phone records, notes and emails relating to his superannuation overpayment.

His attitude to news media going about their job leaves a lot to be desired and may come to pose a threat to press freedom if he now uses his position to try to put his antagonism into law.

This is a concern – and appears highly hypocritical given Winston’s history of making serious accusations against political opponents without evidence.

But the bigger issue – the question of Peters negotiating with party leaders who he had already filed legal action against, and whether Peters was honest about giving both National and Labour a fair shot at forming a coalition.

…it discredits his post-election negotiations and inevitably reflects on the Government he has chosen. It is now obvious there was extremely little possibility he could work with Bill English, Paula Bennett, Steven Joyce and Anne Tolley since he had initiated legal action against them the day before the election.

Why he put them and the public through three weeks of uncertainty only Peters knows. It is hard to avoid the conclusion it was to increase his leverage on Labour.

It appears that the negotiations and leveraging may have been done in bad faith.

National may well have suspected this as they seemed to not push all that hard for a deal with Peters.

Labour were more desperate for power, and may well have been sucked in by Peters. That is not a good basis to form a coalition based on trust.

Peters was criticised for not being open about his intentions before the election, leaving voters guessing about what he might do.

This is poor democracy. Voters should be aware of the risks of believing political ‘promises’ made by Peters, but it appears that some voters were sucked in, given some NZ First campaign policies were quickly dropped in negotiations.

Peters as Foreign Minister is currently overseas. It will be interesting to see how willing journalists will be to hold him to account when he returns.

Journalists and social media bias

When you follow New Zealand journalists in social media you get an idea of where some of their political sympathies lie. This can be subtle, and far removed from the perceptions of some (usually hard lefties and hard righties) that all journalists are biased to the left, or that all media are biased to the right.

For US news I get both Fox News and CNN feeds on Twitter, and they are both generally biased, most notably Fox.

Ironically Fox writes about a less right leaning competitor: NY Times changes social media guidelines so reporters don’t appear biased

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet issued new social media guidelines to his newsroom on Friday and advised staffers to “read them closely, and take them to heart” so that the paper’s journalists are not perceived as biased.

“Many of our journalists are influential voices on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms. The voices of our readers, listeners and viewers inform and improve our reporting,” Baquet wrote. “But we also need to make sure that we are engaging responsibly on social media, in line with the values of our newsroom.”

Baquet discussed Twitter at a forum at George Washington University Thursday and said his staff should not be able to say anything on social media that they cannot say” in the Times, according to Politico.

The Times’ rival, The Washington Post, published a story back in Oct. 2016 headlined, “#Biased? Reporters on Twitter don’t hold back about Trump”. The article mentioned Times reporters throughout, noting that “reporters are supposed to keep their opinion out of the stories they write” but that policy doesn’t seem to apply to Twitter. The Post called out Times staffers Alex Burns for attacking Trump on a regular basis – and that was before he defeated Hillary Clinton on Election Day.

While some journalists state on their Twitter profile that any tweets are their own opinions they can’t help being seem as associated with their jobs and their media organisations, so they must be aware of this and behave accordingly.

Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor thinks it’s too little, too late when it comes to the Times’ reporters appearing anti-Trump on social media.

“Twitter has been around for 10 years and The New York Times is only now realizing that its staff say lots of stupid, left-wing things there? I know Baquet isn’t active on Twitter, but he claims he is aware of the Times agenda problem. You’d never know it though,” Gainor told Fox News.

Fox frequently slams other media for being anti-Trump, but even though she is a political relic Fox continue to show strong bias against Hillary Clinton and the liberal left, as well as an obvious bias in favour of Trump. Their current feed has scores of positive tweets like…

…about interspersed with several like:

There are mild biases in media here at times, but they are nothing like the extremes of the US media.

They can go both ways at times, this is two consecutive tweets from CNN:

 

Media has a responsibility to be balanced

This shouldn’t need to be said, and if it is seen it is likely to be ignored, but the media have a responsibility to be balanced in their coverage of politics, especially in an election campaign.

A month or so ago we had media overkill of Todd Barclay’s political career. It was a story that deserved some coverage, but it became more of a hounding than reporting, and still pops up occasionally.

Last week has been extraordinary. The media obsession with promoting Jacinda Ardern was possibly without precedent. It’s hard to imagine a greater concentration of coverage if they had discovered that Princess Diana’s death had been faked and she had been living anonymously in Morrinsville.

The change of Labour leadership was a very big story. The rise of Jacinda Ardern was a phenomenon, but the glittering saturation coverage was excessive, and democratically unbalanced and unfair

The media plays an important role in a democracy, an essential role. A problem with modern media is that it has become a means of exerting and influencing power.

Politicians and parties have recruited a lot of journalists, and they obviously know how to play the game. They also have good contacts in media.

Switching from journalism to political PR seems to have significant financial benefits for the best of them, with probably only the TV and radio ‘personality’ journalists on more lucrative salaries.

Politicians cultivate their own relationships with journalists. It is something Ardern has been adept at, she has milked a lot of coverage in the past, but has been careful not to upstage her leader.

And that paid off last week with journalists flocking to Ardern. She was smattered all through newspapers. She appeared on just about every TV program that wasn’t ‘reality TV’ or Coronation Street – she would probably have been on Shortland Street if there wasn’t a lead time to their content.

The coverage of all other politicians and parties combined would have been less than the attention Ardern got. We have had an outpouring of overkill.

But we have had what we have had, and now Ardern is an obvious media favourite to at least feature prominently in the election campaign.

I think it’s too much to ask but the media have a responsibility to be objective and to provide balanced coverage.

They have already shown their bias against Bill English, with it being common to report on his lack of ‘charisma’ – he is too boring for their headlines and click baiting.

He is so old hat that journalists have almost lusted over a younger fresher alternative.

Winston Peters has long been given favourable coverage and inadequate scrutiny from media, but even he was virtually ignored. Who knows what a shunned Winston will do now to try to attract attention.

The media have switched from their obsession with ‘king maker’ to building a throne for their anointed queen.

It hasn’t been all adulation, there has been some reasonable coverage, but the overwhelming impression has been that media has had a clear favourite, and balance went out the window with Andrew Little.

The media euphoria over the rise of Ardern will subside a bit, but there is a real risk of ongoing lack of balance.

The future of the country is at stake and voters should be given fair and balanced coverage. I’m not confident we will get that.

Where are the journalists going?

There are continuing concerns about journalists being gradually culled from major media organisations. NZ herald is one of the latest to show some the door.

This exchange on Twitter commented on some of that and asked lamented the thinning ranks of journalists.

Deeply concerned about right tilt in media. Now Campbell, Rudman, Drinnan gone and Weldon running Mediaworks.

Campbell has gone to a better place and… my god you’re not suggesting Drinnan is a leftie?!

@DavidCunliffeMP

He is at least an independent and critical voice re media – how thin the critical media voices now are!

To an extent that is a concern, but a signs of rapidly changing times. However there was an interesting response.

Well, you should stop bloody poaching them. Ihaka, Faafoi, Moroney ..

Sarah Stuart, Phil Twyford, Danya Levy and a little bit of David Cohen….. you have quite the Press Room.

He was making the point that political parties poach quite a few journalists.This not only reduces media experience but it pits poached experience against the reporters.

Going through those names – these three are MPs:

Kris Faafoi:

Kris lives in Titahi Bay, Porirua and was elected as the Member of Parliament for Mana in November 2010 following more than a decade working as a journalist at both TVNZ and the BBC – giving him a strong commitment to public service broadcasting. – Labour website.

Sue Moroney:

Has been an MP since 2005. Sue is a mum, a former journalist and a proud Hamiltonian and so she is a champion for early intervention and strong regional development plans. – Labour website.

Phil Twyford:

New voices: Sam Lotu-Iiga, Phil Twyford and David Garrett

MP for Te Atatu. Formerly a journalist at the now defunct Auckland Star and Sunday Star, and a union organiser, before starting his career at Oxfam as its NZ division’s founding CEO.

And ex-journalists in the Labour staff:

Jodi Ihaka:

Ihaka takes up Senior Communications Advisor role

Putting Māori Members of Parliament (MPs) at the forefront of important New Zealand politics is Jodi Ihaka’s plan, as she was recently appointed the Labour Party’s new Senior Communications Advisor (Māori).

“I’m really excited to use my communication skills in such an important Māori advisory capacity.  I have loved my time at Whakaata Māori (Māori Television) and have nothing but respect for the Māori journalists on Te Kāea and Native Affairs,” says Ihaka.

The position sees Ihaka take on a key advisory role to Labour leader, Andrew Little as well as Māori MPs including Kelvin Davis, Peeni Henare, Louisa Wall, Meka Whaitiri, Nanaia Mahuta and Adrian Rurawhe.

Sarah Stuart:

Former Woman’s Weekly editor is Labour’s new chief spin doctor

Labour leader Andrew Little has appointed a former editor of the Woman’s Weekly Sarah Stuart as his chief press secretary and head of media and communications.

Stuart, whose other former roles include deputy editor of the Herald On Sunday and the Sunday Star Times and head of APN’s regional and daily community newspapers, has also worked in Sydney as a journalist.

Danya Levy:

Former political journo turned Labour Party press secretary. @danyalevy  (ex Dominion Post)

David Cohen is a freelance journalist who has done some work for Labour and Andrew Little:

Little under fire for unpaid workerFreelance journalist David Cohen was called into work on Mr Little’s campaign for the Labour leadership in October. His role was to distil Mr Little’s ideas

He did the job, sent an invoice, but nothing. So Mr Cohen complained in print in the latest National Business Review.

And David Cunliffe should know a bit about the journalist drift into politics.

Cunliffe appoints Cunliffe as chief press secretary

Labour leader David Cunliffe has appointed journalist Simon Cunliffe as his chief press secretary and media director.

Simon Cunliffe has been a deputy editor of the Otago Daily Times and a deputy editor of The Press in Christchurch.

That’s just for Labour.

National MP Paul Goldsmith may not have been a journalist but was a press secretary for and speech writer for Phil Goff (Labour), Simon Upton (National) and John Banks (National).

Does anyone know of any other ex journos in Parliament as MPs or working for parties?

Parliamentary Services spying on journalists

It looks like investigators in a GCSB spy report leak inquiry may have illegally obtained “spy” metadata that show the movement around Parliament of Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance, and also Peter Dunne (after his pressured reluctant consent).

Peter Dunne resigned as Minister when he refused to reveal emails between himself and Vance.

The inquiry was demanding emails between Dunne and Vance were handed over, and as a result of Dunne’s refusal David Henry effectively accused Dunne of leaking the Kitteridge report – despite having no evidence (that he has revealed), and despite Henry’s investigation virtually ignoring many other leaking possibilities.

Stuff report Journalist’s movements tracked by leak inquiry

The journalist who was leaked a sensitive report on the nation’s foreign spy network had her movements tracked by a government inquiry.

Peter Dunne said inquiry head David Henry detailed to him the movements of Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance in and out of the parliamentary precinct.

The conversation related to Vance’s movements the day before the leaked report was published and appeared to be based on Henry having access to records of when she entered and left the building using her security swipe card.

Henry last night repeatedly refused to answer questions about that claim and said he had no comment.

And Peter Dunne says he was pressured into allowing the release of meta data that tracked his movements.

It’s worth asking again here – were leaks to Winston Peters aimed at putting further pressure on Dunne to reveal information and admit guilt (Dunne still denies he leaked the report)?

Dunne confirmed last night he gave permission for his own records to be accessed but only after coming under significant pressure and because he did not have anything to hide.

And only the tracking of Dunne’s movements was disclosed.

Henry’s published report made no mention of Vance’s movements being tracked and referred only to  Dunne’s movements.

Conformation that metadata was released:

Parliamentary Service confirmed last night it released ”metadata” and other security records to Henry for his inquiry but said only after it was satisfied ”that ministers had agreed to cooperate with the investigation”.

It said it would be expected that all swipe cards were reviewed ”if there is a security incident”.

I don’t know that an inquiry into a historical leak could be classed as a “security incident”.

Fairfax can confirm that Vance did not give her permission to hand over her records to the inquiry.

David Farrar: “Parliamentary Service should not have released @avancenz swipe card details without a warrant. Journalists are not employees.

Constitutional expert Graeme Edgeler: “Parliamentary Service is subject to the Privacy Act so @avancenz can complain under that”.

Group executive editor Paul Thompson said last night it would be worrying if the movements of journalists and MPs were being tracked through a security system that was supposed to protect people working within the building, not be used to watch over them.

Fairfax would be raising the issue with Parliamentary Service.

I think they should raise the issue, it is potentially very serious – a very worrying precedent.

No Right Turn blogs on this in Spying on journalists.

The Prime Minister says it was nothing to do with him. So who authorised it? Because I can’t imagine Parliamentary Services handing out this information without someone telling them to.

Meanwhile, it raises a host of deeply unpleasant questions. Was the Speaker consulted? If not, it seems like a prima facie breach of Parliamentary privilege. Do they spy on other journalists? Their backbenchers? The opposition?

And most importantly, did they get GCSB to track Vance’s movements outside Parliament using her cellphone?

GCSB remember does not regard such spying using metadata as being outlawed by their legislation, and both Kitteridge and their “Inspector-General” basically gave a green light to doing so domesticly. And yet we’ve just had the perfect demonstration of how intrusive and powerful it is, and why it needs to be subject to judicial scrutiny and conduct only with a warrant: because otherwise, we’re letting those in power spy on everything we do.

By spying on a journalist in Parliament, the Key government has once again abused our democracy.

Journalists are not some interlopers in the parliamentary precinct, to be treated like burglars there to steal the family silver. They are a vital part of the democratic process, and their communications with politicians, whether government or opposition, ought to be given the highest degree of protection.

It looks like spying in this country is out of control.There are very important principles of democracy, free press and privacy involved.

The whole issue of spying and security of personal data deserves far more scrutiny than the fast tracked patch up GCSB Amendment Bill that is going through Parliament at the moment.

JADASS

Journalists (and columnists) Advancing Debate About Super Solutions

 Alex Tarrant  interest.co.nz Super age policies: What the different political parties say about whether to raise the Super age, and if so, when
Georgina Bond NBR ONLINE POLL: Massive support for pension age change
Should the age of entitlement for state-funded superannuation be raised from 65 to 70, gradually, from 2020 onwards?
Yes – 81%
No – 19 %
Matthew Hooten NBR John Key’s cunning super plan?
For his part, Mr Key has begun making elliptical statements of his own, saying National has “kicked the tyres” on whether to revisit the promise, hardly an indication it remains absolutely sacrosanct.
While National is formally sticking to the promise for now, government MPs and ministers no longer even bother to defend it and it is unthinkable that Mr Key is really as economically reckless as his public statements suggest. More likely, we are seeing the first stages of a gradual climb down.
David Farrar NZ Herald National’s Super problem
…the stance on superannuation is the chink in National’s armour.
Fran O’Sullivan NZ Herald Key sidesteps that old, old problem again
John Key’s Government would rather play the game of “pass the fiscal time bomb” than confront the real financial pressures that will beggar future New Zealand generations.That’s the harsh takeout from the Prime Minister’s decision to (yet again) put off the day when a New Zealand Government has to foreshadow the introduction of policies to deal with its long-term liabilities.
Jason Krup Stuff Daily Business Paying for the grey tsunami
So far, the leadership needed to steer this debate has yet to emerge from either industry or Government, leaving just two short years until the first waters of the retirement crisis start lapping at the country’s ankles.
Duncan Garner TV3 Key’s superannuation position must change
John Key’s entrenched position not to touch the age of eligibility for New Zealand superannuation is unsustainable. He’s simply putting off a decision that must be made.
Dion Tuuta Taranaki Daily News Retirement law change well overdue
While I can understand where the Maori Party is coming from in their desire for fairness, my preference would be for them to do some work on developing constructive policy which has an effect on raising the average Maori life expectancy, so that Maori could enjoy the benefits of superannuation.
Because the reality is that whether the retirement age is 65 or 60, New Zealand’s superannuation model is unsustainable.
As Shearer himself noted, there are 5.6 working people for every retired person currently living.In less than 30 years – well within the lifetime of my children – that will more than halve to about 2.5 working people for each retired person. On this basis, there just won’t be enough working people to support the retired.