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Belarus arrests 3 journalists in media crackdown – Al Jazeera English

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Authorities in Belarus raided the offices of an independent newspaper and arrested three of its journalists on Monday as part of a relentless crackdown on media outlets and civil society activists.

Alyaksandr Mantsevich, editor of the Regionalnaya Gazeta (Regional Newspaper), and journalists Zoya Khrutskaya and Nasta Utkina, were detained, said the Belarusian Association of Journalists, or BAJ.

They were taken into custody after the search of the newspaper’s office in Maladzyechna, 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

BAJ said that a total of 64 searches have been conducted over the last 10 days. Thirty-two journalists in total are in custody, either awaiting trial or serving their sentences.

“The authorities have turned life into hell for independent journalists in Belarus with a conveyor belt of searches and arrests,” BAJ head Andrei Bastunets said. “There is an impression that the authorities have decided to leave the country without journalists.”

On Monday, authorities also froze the bank accounts of the Belarusian PEN Center, an association of writers led by Svetlana Alexievich, the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature.

Alexievich, a member of the opposition Coordination Council, left Belarus last year after being summoned for questioning by the state investigative agency.

On Monday, a court in Minsk also handed out prison sentences ranging from five to nine years to 11 people who were accused of coordinating “radical actions” and planning arson on a messaging app.

One of them, 26-year-old Yevgeny Propolsky, who was sentenced to eight years in prison, said during the trial that investigators beat and tortured him to force confessions.

“They threatened me, beat and tortured me with electric current,” Propolsky said. “They forced me to write a confessional testimony.”

The Viasna human rights centre recognised the 11 people sentenced on Monday as political prisoners, saying there are a total of 562 in the country now.

Viasna said the searches Monday targeted civil society activists and human rights defenders in the cities of Brest and Pinsk in western Belarus.

Belarus was rocked by months of protests after President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s August 2020 election to a sixth term in a vote that the opposition and the West saw as rigged.

Political instability, sanctions

Belarusian authorities responded to opposition demonstrations with a huge crackdown, including police beating thousands of demonstrators and arresting more than 35,000 people.

Leading opposition figures have been jailed or forced to leave the country, while independent media outlets have had their offices searched and their journalists arrested.

The West has responded to the crackdown by imposing sanctions on Belarus.

The United States, European Union, Britain and Canada last month jointly imposed new sanctions on Belarus after a Ryanair passenger flight was grounded in Minsk on the pretext of a security threat, with authorities arresting an opposition journalist and his girlfriend who were on board.

The government in neighbouring Lithuania has accused Belarusian authorities of organising a flow of migrants from the Middle East and Africa in retaliation.

Lukashenko, who has ordered to halt cooperation with the EU on stemming illegal migration, said Monday that Belarus could contain the flow of migrants if the bloc rolls back the sanctions.

A member of the Lithuania State Border Guard Service patrols the border with Belarus with a Belarusian, right, and Lithuanian, second right, border markers, near small town Kapciamiestis, some 160km (100 miles) of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania [File: Mindaugas Kulbis/AP]

“They have introduced sanctions to strangle us,” Lukashenko said. “They take such action against the Belarusian people and they want us to protect them – listen, it’s really weird. If you want us to help you, don’t put a noose around our neck.”

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Lukashenko’s main challenger in the August 2020 election, was forced to leave Belarus under official pressure immediately after the vote.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday met with Tikhanovskaya, who urged greater pressure on the regime that she says rigged last year’s elections.

Blinken joined a meeting between Tikhanovskaya and State Department number three Victoria Nuland, known as a forceful critic of Moscow, in a show of support a day before the Belarusian opposition chief holds meetings at the White House.

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CBC grapples with how to program an Olympics in the social media age – The Globe and Mail

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After dozens of Olympics on television, you might think it would be easy for a network programmer to figure out which sports Canadian audiences want to watch. But conventional wisdom goes only so far. “In a Winter Games, it’s pretty much: hockey, figure skating, curling – and then you sort everything else out,” said Chris Irwin, the executive producer and head of production for CBC Olympics, in a recent interview. “But a Summer Games, once you get past the big three – athletics, aquatics, gymnastics – everyone in the room has a different opinion.”

In the entertainment realm, TV networks that are programming a new show might base decisions on the performance of similar fare: if CSI Miami pulls in 10 million viewers on Thursdays in primetime, it’s a safe bet CSI: Poughkeepsie would do more or less the same. That works for sports, too: Networks can project with some accuracy the viewership numbers for a typical Yankees or Maple Leafs game.

But the relative rarity of the Olympic Games, combined with their changing locations and the head-swirling developments in both technology and viewer habits, have made historical comparisons of little use for the Tokyo Games, which will unfold 11½ to 16 hours ahead of viewers watching across Canada.

“It’s definitely part science, part art form,” Irwin said.

What to watch at the Tokyo Olympics: Everything you need to know about the Summer Games

Looking at data from the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, “you have the right time zone [as Tokyo], but it’s winter sports, so nothing is relevant. You go back to Rio, and it’s summer sports on the same schedule, but nothing is relevant from a time-zone perspective,” he said. “So, when you get people weighing in and saying, ‘The highest-rated sporting hour in Rio was this [particular event],’ you say, ‘Yes, but that’s because it was at 9 o’clock eastern time and it followed that big, huge other thing.’ And then you try to map that to Tokyo, and [that same sport] is at 8 a.m. and the available audience is one-tenth of what it is [in primetime].

“So, the last comparable Olympics with information that could help you make better decisions was [the Beijing Games in] 2008 – and you can imagine how irrelevant that research is. Nobody was watching streaming. There wasn’t even an app in 2010,” for the Vancouver Games. “So the idea that people [might watch the Olympics] on their phones, and in their beds and on trains and planes and everything, was just non-existent until this cycle.”

Canadians will have a dizzying array of ways to access these Games: five broadcast channels (the main CBC network, which will devote 23 hours every weekday, and 24 hours on weekend days, to coverage; two channels each of CBC’s sub-licensees, TSN and Sportsnet); up to 20 livestreams at once on CBC’s Gem app, the new CBC Olympics app, and the CBC Olympics website. Amazon Prime will have a CBC Olympics hub filled with live games and replays. Select bits of content will run on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. CBC Sports even started up a TikTok account for Tokyo.

“As we look at these Olympics and [the 2022 Winter Games] coming up, and Paris [in 2024] down the road, I’m convinced it’s our responsibility not to just expect Canadians to come to the main channel and watch it like they used to,” said Chris Wilson, the executive director of CBC Sports and Olympics. We’ve got to challenge ourselves to present the Olympic content in different ways, on different platforms and be very creative with our partners.”

Mindful of its role as a public broadcaster, the CBC will be offering the opening ceremony, which airs Friday morning, in eight Indigenous languages on its online platforms: Eastern Cree, Dehcho Dene, Denesuline, Gwichʼin, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, Sahtu Dene and Tlicho.

And while TSN and Sportsnet are only available to paying subscribers, all of the action airing on those cable networks will also be available free on the CBC’s streaming platforms.

That free and universal access – at least for those who have broadband internet – contrasts with the United States, where NBC will spread content across its over-the-air network and several of its pay cable channels. And it is using the Games to push subscriptions to its new streaming service, Peacock.

The CBC is also treating these Games as a promotional opportunity. “We’re certainly interested to see if we can drive additional awareness and additional free subscriptions to Gem,” Wilson said. “There’s no question that Gem is a massive part of our future.”

During the Games themselves, all of those online platforms will help Irwin and his team take the country’s pulse on a continuing basis: They’ll be able to see, in real time, what people are engaging with, what they’re sharing. “Actual clicks, actual minutes, actual numbers, when [viewers] joined, when they left: There are some very specific things that the digital and social metrics can tell us all about what the country is thinking, what the users are thinking,” Irwin said. But, he adds, those numbers need to be read with some caution. Social media is not a perfect proxy for the wider world.

And while the CBC can simply run all of the available sports on its online platforms, it needs to aggregate the largest possible audience for the five broadcast channels at its disposal, especially the main CBC network. That’s where it will aim to show the biggest event of interest to Canadians at any given moment. Long-form competitions – including team sports, road races, golf – will be carried on TSN and Sportsnet, with the CBC main channel possibly cutting in to the final minutes.

Recognizing that many viewers can and do access results on their phones as soon as they occur, the CBC decided years ago it would prioritize live events. “That’s where the change has come to the global media [landscape],” Irwin said. “You can no longer stage the release of information in a way that makes a show [of tape-delayed content] work, or make an audience play along.”

So the broadcaster decided “live trumped everything, and that your filters to make decisions started with live – live Canadian, live of Canadian interest – and worked its way down, to delayed international events that aren’t for medals.” That made it immediately clear where an event might end up on its matrix of outlets.

Irwin knows that makes it challenging to bring in a primetime audience, but he says there is still a hunger for that communal, narrative experience. “The audience, if they love [a particular sport], they did see it when it happened live,” possibly hours before. “And we told them about it on our digital platforms and in our shows and social [media] talked about it, and our daytime show reviewed it, and we’ve interviewed athletes since it happened. But now we have a very captive audience that has made an appointment to come and watch us tonight, when they have a chance to sit down. And we’ve made them a promise that we’re going to tell them a story.”

Sign up for The Globe’s Olympic newsletter and follow all of the news, features and opinion in the leadup to the Summer Games in Tokyo.

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U.S. senators want social media to be held liable for spreading health misinformation – Global News

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Two Democratic U.S. senators on Thursday will add to the stack of bills going after Section 230 — a law that protects tech companies from being sued over content posted by users — making such platforms responsible for health-related misinformation.

The legislation introduced by Amy Klobuchar and Ben Ray Lujan requires internet platforms such as Facebook to take down health and vaccine-related misinformation during public health emergencies or be held liable for that failure.

It also directs the Department of Health & Human Services to issue guidelines on what constitutes health misinformation.

Read more:
How conspiracy theorists are using a CDC database to spread misinformation and fear

“These are some of the biggest, richest companies in the world and they must do more to prevent the spread of deadly vaccine misinformation,” Klobuchar said.

The bill quotes a study from the Center for Countering Digital Hate that found social media platforms failed to act on 95% of coronavirus-related disinformation reported to them.

Kevin Martin, a vice president of public policy at Facebook, said the company supports reforming Section 230.


Click to play video: 'Increasing concerns about COVID-19 misinformation'



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Increasing concerns about COVID-19 misinformation


Increasing concerns about COVID-19 misinformation – Feb 26, 2021

“We believe clarification on the difficult and urgent questions about health related misinformation would be helpful and look forward to working with Congress and the industry as we consider options for reform.”

The Health Misinformation Act is not the first bill targeting tech firms’ liability shield from Senator Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate antitrust subcommittee.

Read more:
Influencers say they got offered thousands to spread fake news on Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Earlier this year, she co-sponsored another bill called the Safe Tech Act with two fellow Democrats. It aims to make social media companies more accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, targeted harassment and discrimination on their platforms.

The chief executives of Google, Twitter and Facebook have said Section 230 is crucial to free expression on the internet. They said it gives them the tools to strike a balance between preserving free speech and moderating content, even as they appeared open to suggestions that law needs moderate changes.


Click to play video: 'Health officials warn about disinformation, conspiracies'



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Health officials warn about disinformation, conspiracies


Health officials warn about disinformation, conspiracies – Feb 26, 2021

Several Republican lawmakers have separately pushed to scrap the law entirely over decisions by tech platforms to moderate content critical of former President Donald Trump and his supporters.

There are several other pieces of legislation aimed at changing the law that have been making the rounds for over a year, including a bipartisan bill from Democrat Brian Schatz and Republican John Thune.

Trump repeatedly pushed for the legal protection to be stripped away over what he alleged was censorship against conservatives.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler and Sam Holmes)

© 2021 Reuters

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Current's 2021 Public Media Salary Survey – Current

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Earlier this year, we asked our readers to take an anonymous survey about what they earn as a public media employee. We received more than 1,900 responses. Below, you can enter your salary and use the filters to explore the results and see how you compare to similar public media professionals. Read more about our key findings and email us with any questions, comments and observations.

This survey was conducted as part of On the Money, our special coverage of money in pubmedia.

Thanks to Eric R. Schuler, quantitative/computational research methodologist with American University, who advised us on designing and fielding the survey.

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