Algeria law ‘controlling media’ close to passing
Algerian parliament’s lower house approved the bill last month which includes forcing journalists to reveal their sources and a ban on media organisations receiving foreign funds.
A new media bill in Algeria that would place curbs on media ownership rules and force journalists to give up their sources has raised alarms among rights groups.
On March 28, the lower house of Parliament overwhelmingly approved the proposed law, while a vote in the upper house is expected on Thursday.
According to media outlet Jeune Afrique, a new “independent” regulatory authority will be created to oversee the media, both print and electronic.
The authority will be made up of 12 people, of whom six will be selected by the president, Jeune Afrique reported.
Moreover, the proposed bill also bans any media outlet in Algeria from receiving direct or indirect “material aid” from foreign sources. Any violation of the law could lead to a fine of one to two million dinars ($7,400-$14,739), according to the report.
Khaled Drareni, North Africa representative for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), said the effect of the laws will “not be positive” on journalism in the country.
“Behind this law, there is a clear desire to further control the world of media and information in Algeria,” he told Al Jazeera from the capital Algiers.
Draneni said the bill’s attempt to define and place restrictions on who qualifies as a journalist was also problematic.
The bill also bars dual nationals from investing in all or part of a media organisation, while any journalist working in the country for a foreign publication or outlet without proper accreditation will be fined between 500,000 to one million dinars ($3,700-$7,400).
Journalists are also warned to not indulge in “apologism for racism, terrorism, intolerance and violence”, or participate in anything that brings into disrepute “the symbols of the war of national liberation”.
According to RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index, the North African country ranked 134 out of 180 countries and territories.
Drareni from RSF believed it would have been beneficial for the Algerian authorities to consult with “professionals who have useful and relevant things to say”.
“This code [proposed bill] gives legal character to a political will to impose a kind of total media silence which contravenes … the provisions of the Constitution on the right to expression and protection of journalists,” he said.
The Algerian government’s policies towards journalists have come under growing scrutiny after the arrest of prominent journalist Ihsane El Kadi, who has been sentenced to three years for “foreign financing of his business”.
El Kadi is the owner of the independent media group Interface Media, which operates the Maghreb Emergent new website and Radio M.
He was first arrested in December and detained under a security law that prohibits the acceptance of foreign funds that endanger Algeria’s “national unity”.
In June 2021, Algeria cancelled the accreditation of France 24, accusing the Paris-based outlet of “clear and repeated hostility towards our country and its institutions”.
Draneni claimed there was “obviously” a link between the proposed bill and the popular anti-government Hirak movement protests.
The movement was launched in 2019 after former longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s announced a bid for a fifth term in office, forcing the late leader to step down weeks later.
However, the protests have continued with people demanding an overhaul of the current system.
Award-winning Hong Kong journalist wins appeal in rare court ruling upholding media freedom – ABC News
HONG KONG — An award-winning Hong Kong journalist won an appeal Monday quashing a conviction related to research for an investigative documentary, in a rare court ruling upholding media freedom in the Chinese territory.
Bao Choy was found guilty in April 2021 of deceiving the government by getting vehicle ownership records for journalistic purposes after she had declared in her online application that she would use the information for “other traffic and transport related issues.”
The investigative journalist was trying to track down perpetrators of a mob attack on protesters and commuters inside a train station during massive anti-government protests in 2019 for her documentary.
Choy was fined 6,000 Hong Kong Dollars ($765) for two counts of making false statements at that time and called it “a very dark day for all journalists in Hong Kong.” That ruling also sparked outrage among local journalists over the city’s shrinking press freedom.
On Monday, judges of the city’s top court unanimously ruled in Choy’s favor in a written judgment, quashing her conviction and setting aside the sentence.
“The issues of falsity and knowledge were wrongly decided against the appellant because her journalistic investigation into the use of the vehicle on the dates in question did fall into the wide catchall category of ‘other traffic and transport related matters’,” the judgment read.
Even if it did not, it was “not an irresistible inference that she knew that to be false,” the judgment said. There is no reason that “bona fide journalism” should be excluded from the phrase, it added.
Choy told reporters outside the court the she was happy to learn about the judgment, saying it had stated the importance of the city’s constitutionally protected freedom of press and speech.
“Over the last few years, we might have found that many things have disappeared quietly,” she said. “But I believe our beliefs in our hearts can’t be taken away that easily. No matter I win or lose today, the persistence (demonstrated) over the last few years is already a meaningful thing.”
She said she hoped the outcome would be encouraging news to all reporters still working hard in the city.
The story Choy co-produced, titled “7.21 Who Owns the Truth,” won the Chinese-language documentary award at the Human Rights Press Awards in 2021. The judging panel hailed it as “an investigative reporting classic” that had chased “the smallest clues, interrogating the powerful without fear or favor.”
In the crackdown on dissent that followed the 2019 protests, two vocal media outlets — Apple Daily and Stand News — have been forced to shut down and some of their top managers have been prosecuted.
Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai faces collusion charges under a sweeping national security law enacted in 2020. Two former Stand News editors were charged under a colonial-era sedition law that has been used increasingly to snuff out critical voices.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to China’s rule in 1997, but critics say Beijing’s promise that it would keep the city’s freedoms is becoming increasingly threadbare.
Hong Kong ranked 140th out of 180 countries and territories in Reporters Without Borders’ latest World Press Freedom Index released last month. The global media watchdog said the city has experienced an unprecedented setback since 2020, when the security law was introduced.
We need levelling up, not sucking up – the-media-leader.com
Opinion: 100% Media 0% Nonsense
Media is more important than ever to advertising. But do enough of those working in media really understand it, asks the editor.
How much does a journalist need to understand about the subject matter they’re writing about?
I’ve been a journalist for 15 years now and this question has rattled around my brain at every turn. How much specialist knowledge is required to do a story justice? How little knowledge can I “get away with” in order to give my audience what they need to know in a palatable way?
The answer, in my experience, is not a simple one. Sometimes “less is more”. You wouldn’t believe how many articles I’ve edited over the last few years, from colleagues and external writers, which are overly detailed, too technical, and bursting with “look how much I know” vibes. Sometimes our industry benefits from generalists who can look at specialist areas with fresh eyes and perspectives from other walks of life.
As usual, the optimal outcome is likely one which promotes as much diversity as possible. Which is why The Media Leader has spent the last few months building our editorial team of journalists to provide insightful and useful content every day on our site and newsletter, but also to inform the array of conferences we host. We don’t claim to be experts, but we do draw on our impressive industry columnists who have “been there and done it” in various areas of media and advertising.
With great growth comes great responsibility
Here’s a dirty secret for you: often journalists don’t really understand what they’re writing about. Many will develop an ability to accurately report what they are told (one step removed from stenography) and others still will develop a good sense to draw on authoritative sources.
One case in point is industry analyst and ex-WPP research lead Brian Wieser, whose latest Madison and Wall newsletter revealed analysis showing that “media agencies were responsible for nearly two-thirds of large agency group growth over the last decade”.
I don’t know how Wieser has come to this conclusion but, having read his work over many years, I take his analysis seriously and feel confident enough to pass it on as useful and authoritative. He estimates that WPP, Publicis Media, Omnicom, IPG and Dentsu (outside of Japan) relied on media agencies for 30% of their revenue in 2022, up from 20% in 2012.
We generally talk about “ad agencies” in our industry, but is that what these businesses are, really, anymore? If the bulk of your business is media-buying, you’re mostly a media-buying company.
‘Hi, I’m a chartered media planner’
And yet, despite media being so important to advertising, sometimes you wonder whether a lack of understanding is plaguing the very people who plan and buy media at agencies, or the advertisers who oversee substantial marketing budgets which go towards media spend.
I was intrigued by a recent blog post by Brian Jacobs, the Crater Lake & Co founder and former international media director at Leo Burnett (when an “ad agency” used to plan and buy media — imagine!)
He suggests we should seek to “kitemark” media planning and buying, or encourage practitioners to prove their proficiency by taking some sort of qualification.
Jacobs argues: “[F]inancial advisors have to take regular exams to update and keep their qualifications. Why aren’t agency media people responsible for investing large sums of money subject to the same scrutiny?”
So I asked Jacobs, what makes you think they need this sort of scrutiny? Some of what I heard was frankly disturbing.
“I hear it all the time when advising on media pitches. Agency people presenting from a script using words and phrases they don’t actually understand, or quoting from studies with which they’re not familiar. The look of panic when you ask them to explain the background from which they’ve drawn their conclusions. The lengths to which they’ll go to avoid answering a question of understanding, instead answering a quite different question to which they happen to know the answer.”
Jacobs may be overlooking how intimidating he is; perhaps these poor agency planners have stagefright in front of someone who literally wrote the book on how to spend advertiser’s money (albeit nearly 40 years ago).
But I’ve heard much the same before anecdotally. There was a network agency strategist expressing frustration recently over junior planners who “accept TGI recommendations without adopting common sense… not unlike driving around with a Sat Nav and misunderstanding it so badly you drive off a cliff.”
My understanding is that the pandemic has worsened this understanding gap. Agencies cut costs too quickly in 2020 and rehired too quickly again during the recovery, with many junior people promoted too swiftly.
MediaSense’s Media’s Got Talent? survey last summer also warned that a majority of people in this industry complain of “over-specialisation” as a limit to their career progression. I’ll repeat: sometimes “less is more”. Over-specialisation is almost as bad as a lack of knowledge — you become so adept at doing one thing that you can’t relate it to how it’s good for all the other things which matter too.
Avoiding a Waystar endgame
Perhaps Jacobs is right and it’s time to create a new gold standard qualification for media planners and buyers to show they actually know what they’re talking about when it comes to media and advertising generally, not just small bits of it.
I’m particularly interested in hearing readers’ views on this, privately or publicly. The Media Leader and our parent group Adwanted is actively looking at how we can provide more education and training tools for the industry. We journalists might just learn something, too.
Because if we don’t encourage a culture of learning and achievement to succeed in media, all we’re left with are a collection of businesses resembling Succession’s Waystar Royco — a nest of viperish and sharp-elbowed sycophants climbing over each other for personal advancement.
Media, as Wieser has shown, has become too economically important for that. We need levelling up, not sucking up.
(But then again, look at this remarkably prescient piece on the importance of generalists from 2011 from one Greg Grimmer, who very coincidentally happens to be my CEO…)
Omar Oakes is editor of The Media Leader. 100% Media 0% Nonsense is a weekly column about the state of media and advertising. Make sure you sign up to our daily newsletter to get this column in your inbox every Monday.
Michaeli slams right-wing, Haredi media for treatment of slain female soldier – The Times of Israel
Labor party head Merav Michaeli attacks right-wing and religious news media for their treatment of Sgt. Lia Ben Nun, a female soldier killed alongside two male colleagues during a Saturday terror attack.
“On the coalition’s media channels, they see a young man and woman alone at night on guard duty, and all they can think about is sex. Not responsibility, not service, not courage, not comradeship. Just sex,” Michaeli says, opening Labor’s Knesset faction meeting.
A commentator on the right-wing Channel 14 insinuated without any proof that the soldiers from the mixed-gender battalion were behaving inappropriately during guard duty when they were killed.
She also singles out ultra-Orthodox media outlets that showed pictures of Staff Sgt. Ohad Dahan and Staff Sgt. Ori Yitzhak Iluz, but either blurred Ben Nun’s image or featured a photo of an inanimate object, in line with the practice of some Haredi media to not broadcast or display women’s faces.
“As far as Netanyahu’s people are concerned, women are good only to be a womb, on their terms, certainly not to be combat soldiers, members of the Knesset, leaders, or just women in their own right,” Michaeli fumed.
“That is why will not give up until we win the fight for democracy and our country,” she adds, tying her criticism to the larger debate on the coalition’s plans to constrain judicial power.
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Chinese warship nearly hits U.S. destroyer in Taiwan Strait during joint Canada-U.S. mission – Global News
Award-winning Hong Kong journalist wins appeal in rare court ruling upholding media freedom – ABC News
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