China has introduced new rules to restrict journalism. The rules say that journalists and their news organizations are forbidden from initiating critical reporting that has not been approved.
The new rules also prohibit a host of other journalistic activities. Reporters may not do reporting across industries or focus areas . News outlets are forbidden from establishing businesses in advertising, publishing or public relations. And they
can't even circulate critical documents internally or on private websites. +
The government rules seem related to recent announcement that over 14,000 press cards had been revoked for supposedly bogus journalists. The measures also appear designed to address corruption scandals involving news outlets found to be practicing black PR,
obtaining profits through paid-for content.
The government had just announced that month that reporters were not allowed to report anything, even on their own blogs and social media sites , that had not been approved by an editor at their news organization. The announcement was aimed at heading
off enterprising--and increasingly frustrated--reporters who would often release directly to their own readers information that had not survived their publications' editing and censorship processes.
On April 11, several Myanmar newspapers and journals blacked-out their front pages to protest the jailing of journalists by the national government.
The Myanmar Journalist Network says five journalists are currently detained in Myanmar, despite the government's commitment to further expand media freedom in the country.
The protest was organized right after a multimedia reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), an independent online publication, was sentenced by a local court to one year in prison for trespassing on government property and disrupting the work of
a government official. The case involved Zaw Pe, a reporter covering a Japanese-funded scholarship program in 2012. He was accused of trespassing after attempting to visit and take footage at an office of the national Department of Education in central
Myanmar during office hours.
In an interview with Irawaddy.com, DVB bureau chief Toe Zaw Latt called the sentence outrageous :
He was taking the video recording during office hours. It's outrageous that he is being sentenced for trespassing...We have to question the degree of press freedom in the country.
These are not good signs for press freedom, if journalists have to face a lawsuit for covering news during office hours. We are worried that these actions might be a sign of restrictions in press freedom again, as it was in the past.
Thousands rallied outside Hong Kong's government headquarters on Sunday, demanding the city's leader uphold media freedoms amid growing anger
toward perceived behind-the-scenes intrusions on local media outlets.
Tensions have been rising between forces backing democratic institutions in Hong Kong and China's Communist Party leaders, as the city proceeds with political reforms that could lead to an unprecedented direct election for its next leader in 2017.
Carrying Free Speech, Free Hong Kong banners, some 6,000 protesters, including working journalists, demanded Hong Kong protect media freedoms as a core value underpinning the financial hub's success and global reputation.
In recent years, Hong Kong journalist and rights groups have warned of mainland Chinese propaganda officials influencing local newsrooms, deepening ties between Hong Kong media bosses and Beijing, greater censorship, and the dismissal of
influential liberal journalists.
Activists say the firing of a popular radio talk show host opposed to the local government earlier this month is proof of encroaching censorship. Staff at the Ming Pao newspaper, known for independent reporting critical of China, have also
criticized the appointment of an editor with suspected pro-Beijing leanings.
In Turkey , around 200 journalists protested against censorship and government pressure on the media . Many referred to the ruling party when
they chanted AK Party get your hands off the media .
Last week, recordings were leaked on the Internet purportedly of Turkish TV executives manipulating an opinion poll and sacking reporters under government pressure. Journalist Hilmi Hacaloglu explained:
The government is trying to control the media by using the bosses or the journalists close to them. Journalists are saying they've had enough and we gathered here in the traditional press district.
The protests have reignited a debate about restrictions on press freedom , something the EU candidate nation is very familiar with.
Independent Iraqi daily newspaper Al-Sabah Al-Jadeed has survived numerous attempts to destroy it over
its 10 year existence. But on 10 February, the newspaper's Baghdad office was bombed and now its future is in doubt. The daily may need to find a new office, employees are fleeing, and its website is facing one DoS attack after another.
A few hours later the bombing a militia-like group entered the building. They came threatening us in broad daylight, so to speak, says Ismael Zayer, editor in chief. The group escaped after employees managed to warn the police.
The bomb attacks followed a social media campaign to demand the closure of the newspaper after it published its weekly supplement Zad on 6 February. The supplement was devoted to the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and on
the cover featured a caricature of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The cover caricature is a tradition for Zad, a supplement that came into existence in the first months of the Arab Spring. These cartoons are never intended to
be offensive or convey a negative message, they are just an alternative to uninteresting photos of VIPs.
Azerbaijani campaigners have called on their government to refrain from preventing public events amid claims the country's authorities recently
blocked the screening of a documentary on freedom of artistic expression.
Art claims democracy was set to run at the Park Inn Hotel, Baku, on January 24 as part of the Art for Democracy campaign; but the hotel turned off the electricity for the event.
The power outage was limited only to the second floor of the building, the floor on which the documentary film was to be aired. Organisers confronted hotel staff at the time who claimed it to be a technical problem. According to Art for Democracy
some hotel employees later unofficially admitted the power shortage was a result of pressures on the hotel management.
India's largest and most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, has been accused of taking the country's most popular English news
channel, Times Now , off the air following a wave of critical reporting. The so-called ban also extended to another channel, India News . The move led to a widespread backlash, and both channels have been restored.
While the background causes for the ban were slowly built up over time, the immediate one was Times Now's dogged coverage of a star-studded Bollywood event at a time when victims of a riot in the town of Muzzafarnagar had been left in the bitter
cold to fend for themselves in relief camps.
Juxtaposing images of the young Chief Minister watching nubile Bollywood starlets gyrate to the latest hit songs with images of a little child shivering in relief camps, the channels demanded to know, among other things, why the event was taking
place and where the money was coming from.
Netizens in Malaysia are having difficulty accessing a BBC story on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak being derided
online for a comment on rising prices, raising fears that the Internet was being censored in the country.
This goes against the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC Malaysia) charter, in which the Malaysian Government guarantees the Internet would not be censored, barring special circumstances.
The BBC article, entitled #BBCtrending: Be careful what you say about spinach, chronicles the recent uproar over a statement made by Najib that the price of kangkung (or Chinese water spinach) has gone down. In a video that has gone viral, he
lamented the fact that the Government has not been praised for this, but is being criticised for the rising cost of living.
His statement has been attacked by Opposition leaders and civil advocates for being insensitive to the plight of average Malaysians, who this year face a slew of price hikes and subsidy reductions.
Internet users in Malaysia reported difficulty accessing the specific BBC post beginning late last night (January 15), with timeouts occurring after a long wait for the page to load, while the rest of the BBC site remained accessible.
Responding to queries by Digital News Asia (DNA), security expert and freelance IT solutions provider @sniiffit said that in a nutshell, what was being done is that all packets requesting the specific page were being dropped at the ISP level.
The Chinese government has intensified its control over the country's news media since Xi Jinping became president in
March last year, reports the Washington Post.
Its domestic journalists risk getting fired and even jailed for their work. Censorship has been stepped up. And new restrictions require them to seek permission before meeting foreign reporters and business people. Chinese journalism schools have
been told that a provincial propaganda official will be appointed in a senior management role at every institution.
In addition, Chinese reporters have been forced to attend ideological training meant to impart the 'Marxist view' of journalism and to pass a multiple-choice examination on their knowledge of the Communist Party's myriad slogans.
It seems that the Beijing government is alarmed about the growing impact of social media and the way in which critical stories can spread around in an instant. Xi, in a speech last August, said:
We have to make sure the front of the internet is firmly controlled by people who are loyal to Marxism, loyal to the party and loyal to the people.
Malaysian journalists and activists banded together and organized a red pencil protest early this month in reaction to the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs to suspend news weekly magazine The Heat for an indefinite period.
Protesters accused authorities of suspending The Heat in retaliation for publishing a story on the spending habits of the Prime Minister and his wife.
More than 200 people gathered to demonstrate in downtown Kuala Lumpur, the country's capital. Participants belonged to the Gerakan Media Marah ( Geramm ) or Angry Media Movement, a loose coalition of journalists which was formed to push for
greater media freedom in the country.
During the protest, red pencils were broken in half to symbolize the violence perpetrated against the media. Fathi Aris Omar, spokesman of Geramm and editor of online media site Malaysiakini, explained further the meaning of the red pencil:
The red pencil represents journalists who were injured (in the past, by the authorities) and a culture of control by the powers that be.
Listen to the breaking sound. That is the suffering of journalists and the media when it is broken .