Internet blackout in Kashmir, journalism ethics in the age of disinformation, and the Assange case

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Edited by Marco Nurra


Here is the 2020 festival e-brochure. Discover all the festival speakers and sessions. Enjoy #ijf20!


No email. No WhatsApp. No Internet. This is now normal life in Kashmir. August 5, Indian authorities have kept the people of Kashmir in a digital blackout, restricting most Internet access. At 205 days and counting, it’s the longest-running internet shutdown in any democracy so far, seven months in March. The topic of  Internet and social-media blackout in Kashmir will be discussed at #ijf20: “Kashmir: journalism in a blackout”

We have entered the Trump Unbound era — and journalists need to step it up. “We need a new and better approach if we’re going to do our jobs adequately. First, we need to abandon neutrality-at-all-costs journalism, to replace it with something more suited to the moment. Call it Fairness First. I’m talking about the kind of fairness that serves the public by describing the world we report on in honest and direct terms — not the phony kind of fairness that tries to duck out of difficult decisions by giving “both sides” of an argument equal time, regardless of their truth or merit. Now more than ever, with a president feeling empowered and vindictive after his acquittal, we need to apply more scrutiny and less credulity to his increasingly extreme actions and statements. Second, we need to be far more direct in the way stories are put together and presented.” Margaret Sullivan will be a #ijf20 speaker: “Covering lies and liars: journalism ethics in the age of disinformation”

From coronavirus to bushfires, misleading maps are distorting reality. Some of the big stories in early 2020 have thrown up a scattering of viral visualisations which are far from accurate and have real-world impact.

Why people still fall for fake screenshots. Fake screenshots are easy to make and incredibly effective vectors for misinformation.

Who needs deepfakes? Simple out-of-context photos can be a powerfully low-tech form of misinformation. A bogus headline seems both more true and more familiar to people when it’s accompanied by a photo of any kind. The topic of deepfakes and synthetic media will be discussed at #ijf20: “Deepfakes: what journalists and the media need to know, do and demand to prepare better”

Research suggests that older adults may struggle the most with identifying fake news — which is why news literacy courses and workshops on how to spot fake news for seniors are especially important. The topic of media literacy will be discussed at #ijf20: “We can’t solve misinformation without media literacy”

Samira Ahmed and BBC reach settlement over equal pay claim. The BBC has decided not to appeal against the equal pay case involving the Newswatch presenter Samira Ahmed after she won an employment tribunal against the broadcaster, giving hope to other women seeking back pay from the national broadcaster. Ahmed successfully claimed she was owed almost £700,000 in back pay because of the difference between her £440-an-episode rate and the £3,000 an episode Jeremy Vine received for hosting Points of View, a similar programme to Newswatch. The topic of equal pay for equal work will be discussed at #ijf20: “Men and women journalists do the same jobs. But they don’t always get paid equally”

Julian Assange’s father has claimed his son was “harassed” by a prison cell search the day before his extradition hearing was planned to begin. Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, said journalism “will be in danger” at the Woolwich crown court hearing. He said: “If Assange would be extradited to the US, it would be the sign that journalism is considered espionage and it would endanger all journalists who want to uncover the lies of governments whatever the country.” The topic of Assange case will be discussed at #ijf20: “In defence of Julian Assange and Wikileaks”

The Italian photographer Lorenzo Tugnoli has been nominated for the 2020 World Press Photo, in the Contemporary Issues category. In 2019, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography for his coverage of the famine in Yemen. Lorenzo Tugnoli will be a #ijf20 speaker: “Yemen: portraying violated beauty”


Waiting for #ijf20


Every week, one recommendation from the extensive programme of the next edition of the International Journalism Festival.  

India: journalism under fire. #ijf20talk by Rana Ayyub

Why does a 26-year-old journalist decide to go undercover with six cameras on her body, living an isolated life as a Hindu nationalist, undertaking one of the riskiest undercover operations? What happens when the contents of the investigation are censored? How does the world’s largest democracy threaten, intimidate and stifle a journalist who has been exposing Narendra Modi’s majoritarian regime?

Rana Ayyub has been threatened with a deepfake porn video, circulated all over the country with a tidal wave of abuse. She was doxxed, slut shamed, forced to go into hiding. In December 2019, Rana Ayyub was profiled by the New Yorker for their cover story Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India. She will be talking about the need for journalism in these dark times for the world.

Moderated by Courtney Radsch.

(Photo: Journalists use internet facilities at the designated media center of the government’s information department in Srinagar, via BuzzFeed News)