SLAPPs and legal harassment: a scourge that must be stopped

The International Journalism Festival weekly round-up. Stay up to date by subscribing to our newsletter, by following our Telegram channel, or by joining us on Facebook and Twitter.

SLAPPs and legal harassment: a scourge that must be stopped. There should be a swift independent process and mechanism for redress and a range of sanctions to prevent and punish engagement with and tolerance of any abuse of legal power to stifle free speech, in combination with soft law measures for funding pro-bono legal aid and providing financial and psychological support to victims. It is our hope that a motion to adopt the first ever regional anti-SLAPP treaty at the European Union level will trigger the adoption of a global treaty protecting free speech and public participation, thus unlocking the doors to a better future for all.

Cusi libel complaints an ‘embarrassment’ for the Philippines – Maria Ressa’s lawyers. Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, a member of Ressa’s legal team, said Cusi’s libel complaints are further proof of the repressive environment for journalists in the Philippines as they report on matters of public interest and government accountability. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is a member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet.

Cascade of frivolous lawsuits endangers top Serbian investigative journalism outlet KRIK. Three frivolous lawsuits known as SLAPPS have been filed in the past month against KRIK, making a total of 10 legal actions currently facing the Belgrade-based investigative media outlet. These SLAPPS, short for “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” which are brought against journalists in order to silence them, appear to be part of a coordinated campaign by political powers to weaken KRIK and further quash independent media in the country.

Philippine journalist shot dead in his home in Calbayog City, Samar. Jesus “Jess” Malabanan, a correspondent and stringer for the Manila Standard Today, Reuters, ABS-CBN News and Bandera, was killed by unidentified gunmen in his home at around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Police said the victim was watching TV inside his house when two armed men shot him from the outside. The gunmen fled right after the incident. Malabanan was quickly brought to a hospital but was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.

The great leap backwards of journalism in China. The RSF report reveals the unprecedented campaign of repression led by the Chinese regime in recent years against journalism and the right to information worldwide. Specifically, it examines the regime’s tools of repression against journalists and the deterioration of press freedom in Hong Kong, which was once a model of press freedom but now has an increasing number of journalists arrested in the name of national security. Beijing’s strategy to control access to information within and beyond its borders is also detailed.

A Twitter tightrope without a net: journalists’ reactions to newsroom social media policies. A new report from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, drawing on interviews with 37 reporters, editors, publishers, freelancers, and social media/audience engagement managers from throughout the US.

The Sigma Awards. Striding into its third year, the Sigma Awards celebrates the best data journalism from around the world. It’s also here to empower, elevate and enlighten the global community of data journalists. Entries are now open and data teams around the world have until 7 January 2022 to enter.

Content from our partner McKinsey & Company

“In 2019, we experienced a record year in travel,”
says Axel Hefer, the CEO of Trivago. “Then in 2020, it was the worst it had been in a very long time.” Hefer provides unique perspective on the travel industry’s recent travails. How is it rebounding, and what might 2022 bring? In a new interview, he discusses trends affecting the sector, highlights the shift toward domestic travel, and considers the road ahead for both leisure and business trips.

Editor’s pick: 2021’s best investigative stories from Latin America. Here we highlight eight of the best investigative stories published in Spanish from the region this year. We have selected those that prioritize collaboration, use innovative investigative methods and tools, and those that reach new audiences.

Number of journalists behind bars reaches global high. It’s been an especially bleak year for defenders of press freedom. CPJ’s 2021 prison census found that the number of reporters jailed for their work hit a new global record of 293, up from a revised total of 280 in 2020. At least 24 journalists were killed because of their coverage so far this year; 18 others died in circumstances too murky to determine whether they were specific targets.

Information Disorder Prize competition. The Aspen Tech Policy Hub is accepting applications for proposals that implement expert recommendations from the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder to alleviate the crisis of mis- and disinformation in America. Semi-finalists will be awarded $5,000, and a grand prize of $75,000 will be awarded to the winner.

Who, and why, is surveilling journalists in Slovakia? Spying on the press has a long tradition in the country.

European regulation of online disinformation may be a “game changer” in 2022. After several years of asking the tech giants to regulate themselves on mis/disinformation and a range of other topics, the European Union is expected to issue new laws by mid 2022, some of which officials say will be “game changers.”

Canada’s news industry expects up to $150m annual windfall from Australia-style big tech crackdown. Like Australia, Canada will seek to compel Google and Facebook to pay news publishers for the use of their content. It will grant collective bargaining powers to Canadian publishers, and will threaten platforms with compulsory arbitration if they cannot agree deals with news companies. Ultimately, Canada’s publishers expect the tech giants will be persuaded to pay the equivalent of 30% of their annual newsroom costs. Under this estimation – which is based on figures that have leaked from Australian deals – Google would cover 20% of editorial costs and Facebook 10%.

Brussels journalists should not resist sharing their access. The pandemic has replaced European Union press rooms with Zoom. Now correspondents must face up to the change and relinquish their monopoly on background information.

Image credit: by Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay