The police raid on the ABC, mojo in state-censored countries, and the perils of regulating the internet

Our personal weekly selection about journalism and innovation.

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Edited by Marco Nurra


Watch all #ijf19 sessions on-demand: media.journalismfestival.com


This week’s raids on Australian media are a clear threat to democracy and press freedom. The police said the raid was connected to allegations of publishing classified material, saying they had received a referral on July 11, 2017, from the Australian military and the then-defense secretary. On that date, ABC published “The Afghan Files”. These documents revealed disturbing allegations of misconduct by Australian special forces. The executive editor of ABC news and head of the ABC’s investigations unit, John Lyons, began live tweeting the raid almost as soon as it began. The ABC’s chair, Ita Buttrose, has said raids by the federal police on its headquarters were “designed to intimidate” and warned the government she will fight “any attempts to muzzle” the national broadcaster. Australia has more national security laws than any other nation. It is also the only liberal democracy lacking a Charter of Human Rights or other foundational document that protects media freedom. This raid shows we need a law to protect journalists and their sources.

Journalist Roberto Saviano threatened by Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini with withdrawal of his Police protection. According to the Council of Europe, Matteo Salvini’s statement on the possible withdrawal of protection from the journalist is an “intimidation attributable to the State” and has been included among those of maximum danger for the safety of reporters. Roberto Saviano was a #ijf19 speaker:

Jamal Khashoggi awarded 2019 Golden Pen of Freedom. Murdered Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi has been given WAN-IFRA’s highest honour for furthering the cause of press freedom. We tackled this topic at #ijf19:

The Rana Ayyub story. “Does my journalism justify this criminal attack on me? On my family? Is a morphed pornographic video a justified response to journalism?” These questions are raised by Indian investigative journalist Rana Ayyub. Rana Ayyub was a #ijf19 speaker:

Hong Kong multimedia project commemorates the 30th anniversary of June 4 massacre in Beijing. A group of 60 Hong Kong journalists has decided to document the event with a multimedia publication project: “I am a Journalist, My June 4 Story.”

Voice for the voiceless: smartphones are the weapon of choice to tell stories from Syrian civil war. “We used mobile phones as our weapon when we were protesting in the streets,” said Waad Al-Kateab, a Syrian filmmaker, speaking at Mojofest. In Syria, ranked 174th out of 180 for press freedom by Reporters Without Border, the citizens joke that even their thoughts and dreams are controlled by the regime forces.

A Dutch teenager’s death was wrongly reported as “legal euthanasia” across international media. Here’s how they all got it wrong. By Wednesday, the story was front-page news in Italy and was so dominating the internet conversation that the pope appeared to weigh in with a subtweet.

Burned after reading. Endless Mayfly’s ephemeral disinformation campaign. Endless Mayfly is an Iran-aligned network of inauthentic websites and online personas used to spread false and divisive information primarily targeting Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Israel (here’s an example). Using this network as an illustration, this report by researchers at Citizen Lab, at the University of Toronto, highlights the challenges of investigating and addressing disinformation from research and policy perspectives.

YouTube says it’ll have no more videos from Nazis, Sandy Hook truthers, Holocaust deniers, and white supremacists. This set of changes seems to echo Facebook’s declaration earlier this year that it would ban praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism on Facebook and Instagram.

Disinformation, hate speech, terrorist propaganda. How to regulate the Internet without killing it. An interview with David Kaye. Regulating content moderation on digital platforms is one of the key issues of our time. Hate speech, terrorist propaganda, covert manipulation of the public sphere, harassment of minorities, automatic discriminations: none of this is contemplated in digital utopias. And yet it is increasingly clear that yes, they make for a real problem, threatening our very ability to speak and act freely online. At the same time, an over-reaction to these very real issues can easily lead our democracies astray as well — hindering freedom of speech and users’ rights in the impossible quest for online purity and harmony. A balance must be struck here, but it’s difficult to see where.

Regulating the net is regulating us. “What becomes clear is that these regulatory methods — private (at Facebook) and public (in the UK and across Europe) — are aimed not at content but ultimately at behavior, only they don’t say so. It is nearly impossible to judge content in isolation. For example, my liberal world is screaming about the slow-Pelosi video. But then what about this [Trump] video from three years ago?,” writes Jeff Jarvis. “By the way, media people: Beware what you wish for when you declare that platforms are media and that they must do this or that, for your wishes could blow back on you and open the door for governments and others to demand that media also erase that which someone declares to be false,” writes Jeff Jarvis.

Promoting based on potential: How The Atlantic is putting a lot more women in charge. “The only way to put women in leadership is to do it for the first time.”

Tackling the underrepresentation of women in media. For over two years, journalists and producers across the BBC have been tackling the gender representation issue by rethinking whom they put in front of the camera, with the goal of achieving 50:50 gender representation every month. “Outside Source”– Ros Atkins’ nightly primetime news program that started the effort in 2017 — took its representation of on-air contributors from 39% women to 50% within four months. Today, 500 BBC shows and teams have joined the so-called 50:50 Project. In April 2019, 74% of the English-language programs that had been involved in 50:50 for a year or more reached 50%+ female contributors on their shows. We tackled this topic at #ijf19:

Sobering reality for news outlets: Your readers are somewhere else 99% of the time. People on the internet don’t go on the internet saying, ‘Um, I’m going to go look at news sites.’ The study, conducted for the Medill Local News Initiative, suggests that news outlets would be wise to broaden their view of their competition, and to analyze those competitors to learn more about what their own audiences want.

The International Journalism Festival #ijf19 On-Demand

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

Today we are inviting you to watch “Pitfalls of over-reacting to populism: the relationship between populism and the media“. ‘Populist’ politics are on the rise around the world. These movements have been boosted by their success at capturing attention on social and mainstream media. Often they are a direct challenge to mainstream media and its role in democracy. Is populism a proof that traditional news media is out of touch? How should journalists report on populism without amplifying extremism or polarisation?


(Photo: John Lyons, executive editor of ABC news and head of the ABC’s investigations unit, live tweeting the raid)