Major wins for press freedom in Brazil and Tanzania
Brazil announces an observatory on violence against journalists and Tanzania lifts a 6-year ban on political rallies.
We hope you’re staying safe and healthy.
First, we’d like to remind you to join our Twitter Space conversation today (February 1, 2023) with Catherine Gicheru of the Africa Women Journalism Project on implicit biases in the newsroom.
This week in the Checklist we take a look at recent developments in media freedom in different regions. On a positive note, in a show of willingness to defend journalists, the Lula-led Brazil government has approved the demand for the creation of the National Observatory of Violence against Journalists. In Tanzania, president Samia Suluhu has lifted a ban on political rallies imposed by her hardline predecessor aimed to restrict opposition and censor journalists.
We also bring you reports on press freedom struggles in India and Egypt. The censoring of a BBC documentary on the violent communal riots in the Indian state of Gujarat, back in 2002 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at the helm of the state, highlights the rising social media censorship in India. This was made possible through an information and technology rule implemented in 2021. In Egypt, authorities have once again used false news charges to arrest a journalist.
Also, take a look at the Townsquare section where we share opportunities, resources and events. Scroll further for some interesting reads on developments in the tech field that have caught our attention!
If there are updates you would like us to share from your country or region, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
The Check Global Report
By Meedan’s Check Global team in Beirut, Belo Horizonte, Kochi, Bhimtal, and Nairobi
Brazilian Government responds to demands from press freedom organizations and creates the National Observatory on Violence against Journalists
The Brazilian government announced the creation of the National Observatory of Violence against Journalists, a demand from organizations defending press freedom and journalists in the country.
"You can't say that anything that happens to a journalist is a common crime, because it is not. It is a crime directed at a group, at the press. (...) The government's understanding that there is a serious problem, a targeted issue, and that it’s necessary to take some measures, for us this is already a step forward, if we consider the recent past," — Katia Brembatti, President, Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism.
Tanzanian President Suluhu ends six-year ban on political rallies, promises more reforms
Tanzania's president Samia Suluhu has lifted a ban on political rallies imposed by her predecessor, John Magufuli. The ban effectively restricted opposition political parties from operating freely, and was part of a law that had been passed in an attempt to censor journalists, the opposition, and human rights activists from criticizing the government and the president.
"The blanket ban on political rallies has in the past been used to arbitrarily arrest and detain prominent opposition politicians who organized rallies. Participating in, and organizing, assemblies is a right, not a privilege, and does not require state authorization” — Roland Ebole, researcher at Amnesty International
A BBC documentary highlights growing social media censorship in India
The Indian government ordered YouTube to remove clips from a BBC documentary. The documentary, called India: The Modi Question, covers, in part, a series of violent riots in the western Indian state of Gujarat in 2002. According to the orders from India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the clips from the documentary and the tweets referring to them were to be removed under information technology laws that the Modi government implemented in 2021.
According to one report, senior officials from different branches of the government reviewed the documentary and found it to be “an attempt to cast aspersions on the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court of India, sow divisions among various Indian communities, and make unsubstantiated allegations regarding the actions of foreign governments in India.”
Egyptian journalist Ahmed Montasir detained since October
On October 9, 2022, authorities in Cairo arrested Ahmed Montasir, a freelance reporter who contributes to the independent news websites Ida2at and Al-Manassa, according to the independent outlet Darb and a local journalist following the case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
“Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Ahmed Montasir, and drop all charges against him.... Journalists in Egypt should be able to work freely and without fear that they will be imprisoned under opaque and often-abused false news charges.”— Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ Program Director
Updates from Meedan
Five trends we found on WhatsApp during the 2022 Brazil elections
A Meedan analysis of anonymized audience data from our collaborative reporting project, Confirma 2022, shines a light on the information voters were exposed to, and the questions audiences had, in the lead up to the 2022 Brazilian presidential and runoff elections.
Through this program we used machine learning to uncover big picture trends about the questions people asked and claims they encountered online. The data provides a snapshot of the information landscape within WhatsApp audiences ahead of the elections.
FEBRUARY 01, 2023
Breaking biases: Meedan talks implicit bias in the newsroom: Join us for a Twitter Space conversation with Catherine Gicheru, founder of the Africa Women Journalism Project and veteran investigative editor and digital strategist
FEBRUARY 03, 2023
RJI Fellowship for individuals and organizations: The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute invites proposals from individuals and organizations on practical innovative projects for community centered news, journalists and the communities they serve.
FEBRUARY 13 to MARCH 12, 2023
News product management: How to adopt ‘product thinking’ in your newsroom: Register for the Knight Center for Journalism’s open online course (MOOC) in Portuguese.
FiSahara Presents Online Catalogue of Western Sahara Films: After years of hard work, our friends at FiSahara announce the launching of the most extensive online film database about Western Sahara with more than 235 titles available to watch online.
What else we’re reading
What the new PIB factcheck rule would mean for media freedom: Tune in, listen to Jency Jacob, Managing Editor of Boom Live, dissecting the new rule by the Indian government (All Things Policy on Spotify)
Karen Pollock of the Holocaust Educational Trust on how disinformation on social media challenges the preservation of the truth of Holocaust (Independent)
Olivia Solon’s analysis on ChatGPT and if it could turn out to be a misinformation Machine (Washington Post)
A report on how social media rules for advertising and misinformation have implications for Australia’s referendum, its first in the digital age, on Indigenous voices in the parliament (The Guardian)
Daniel L Byman’s commentary on the risk of election violence in the United States in 2024 (Brookings)
How trolls on 4chan are using a free AI voice clone tool to imitate celebrity voices and generate hate speech (The Verge)
The ongoing layoff spree by tech companies (The Verge)
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