Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

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Saberi released earlier this week

May 13, 2009

This is tremendously good news, but before one gets too ecstatic, Glenn Greenwald pens a sobering reminder of how the US treats journalists who aren’t working for access to the Pentagon. Check it out here.

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Iranian-American journalist on hunger strike

May 5, 2009

You’ve likely noticed the several posts here about Roxana Saberi, the American journalist who has been sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran on espionage charges. Apparently, over the past two weeks, Saberi has been on a hunger strike, and when Iranian officials denied this, she went full on and stopped drinking water too and has since been hospitalized.

Although it’s somewhat less noticeable now, when Saberi was initially arrested, we heard too few calls of support from the mainstream press. It’s true that Reporters Sans Frontiers are now staging protests outside the Iranian Embassy, but initially, concern was coming either from Saberi’s family or diplomatic circles. This, as a wry friend observed, was because she’s professionally part of the pariah class, the freelancer.

Here’s more from the Washington Post.

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Iranian-American journalist sentenced to 8 years

April 18, 2009

From the NYT:

The sentencing of Ms. Saberi, 31, could complicate political maneuvering between Iranian and American leaders over Iran’s nuclear program, an issue that kept relations icy during much of the Bush administration. President Obama recently made overtures to Tehran about starting a dialogue over the nuclear program, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran responded positively.

Ms. Saberi’s sentencing appears to set the case apart from other recent detentions of people with dual citizenship. Two Iranian-American scholars, Haleh Esfandiariand Kian Tajbakhsh, were arrested in 2007 on accusations that they tried to overthrow the government, but they were released on bail before their trials began. Ms. Esfandiari was allowed to return to the United States, and Mr. Tajbakhsh is allowed to leave Iran when he wants.

More here.

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Italy’s earthquake and a myth

April 6, 2009

Over at Crooks and Liars, there’s a dollop of outrage over the allegation that Italian officials were warned by a scientist about the oncoming earthquake and yet did nothing to save the townspeople of L’Aquila. But here’s the rub, there’s no way to effectively predict an earthquake, period.

I’ve been lucky enough to count a few seismologists as friends, and I remember one conversation when I asked about this, whereupon my friend said, yes, scientists could predict temblors from within a few weeks, then she shrugged, to several hundred years.

Here’s the Reuters account. This story shouldn’t have made it onto the wires.

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News of jailed Iranian-American journalist

April 6, 2009

In the Washington Post we find the government of Iran has agreed to allow Roxana Saberi’s parents to visit her. Apparently the State Department has already made some slight, but significant, inroads. From the Post:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said last week that the United States had given a letter to Iranian officials during a meeting in the Netherlands, seeking Iran’s help in resolving Saberi’s case, as well as those of Robert Levinson and Esha Momeni, two other Americans missing or detained in Iran.

Levinson, a private detective probing cigarette smuggling, went missing in 2007 during a visit to Iran’s Kish island. Iranian officials have repeatedly denied that Levinson is in their country. Momeni, an Iranian American student at California State University at Northridge, was detained in Iran in October for supporting a campaign for women’s rights. Momeni was later released, but she has not been allowed to leave the country.

More here.

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US journalists held in North Korea

March 23, 2009

More here.

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Death of Newspapers?

March 17, 2009

newspapers31As I noted in an earlier post the disappearance of newspapers often means corruption increases. What wasn’t addressed in that post is the grand kibbitz going on now: What did the newspapers in?

Conventional wisdom has the Internet as its culprit, but that’s simplistic and naive. Long before the Internet was making inroads into the newspapers’ market share, newspaper owners got giddy over who could cut costs faster. If you have a chance to speak with a Vietnam-era foreign correspondent, ask them about well-staffed foreign bureaus, per diem pay, and corporate accounts. I’m not saying those journalists were living large, but what passes for a foreign bureau now is risible compared with its predecessor.

And it wasn’t only foreign bureaus. After the glory days of American investigative journalism, newspapers began cutting their investigative staff as well, and in a race to see who could garner the largest quarterly profits, newspaper owners cut time and again, and now they’re gobsmacked that nothing’s left.

Any newspaper in the country that depends on wire services for stories on New York and D.C., but just laid off its local sports reporter is a paper destined to fail. Just as all politics is local, in the end, all news is as well.  As tiring as it is to see so many blaming technology, it’s nice that there’s at least one industry insider who gets it. I suspect there are many, many more who decided to stay silent trying to preserve their positions.

But here’s a taste of what columnist Bill Virgin has to say on the last day of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. While I disagree with his contention of how newspapers drove away conservatives, the bulk of his argument is sound:

 … Or at least newspapers did until they began lopping away content and features readers had come to expect. The rationale the industry used was that readers could and would get that information elsewhere, especially online, so why waste valuable print real estate on them? But the message readers got from the newspapers was they ought to go elsewhere for TV listings, stock quotes and the like. Surprisingly enough, readers took the advice and did.

(snip)

Until now. In business there is a phenomenon known as the death spiral, in which the measures intended to rescue a company or industry not only fail to stem the losses, they actually accelerate the decline. In the case of newspapers, the loss of readers and advertisers led to cuts in content and features and greater irrelevancy, which led to more lost readers and advertisers, which led to still more cuts, which led to …

As he says, where we are today.