China was the biggest global jailer of journalists last year with more than 100 behind bars, according to a press freedom group, as President Xi Jinping’s government tightened control over society. Xi's government also was one of the biggest exporters of propaganda content, according to Reporters without Boarders. China ranked second to last on the group’s annual index of press freedom, behind only neighbor North Korea. The ruling Communist Party has tightened already strict controls on media in China, where all newspapers and broadcasters are state-owned. Websites and social media are required to enforce censorship that bans material that might spread opposition to one-party rule. Also Read: Chinese who reported on COVID to be released after 3 years Xi, China’s most powerful figure in decades, called during a 2016 meeting with journalists who had been awarded official prizes for them to adhere to “the correct orientation of public opinion." Xi is pursuing a “crusade against journalism,” Reporters Without Borders said in a report Wednesday. It called China's decline in press freedom “disastrous.” Beijing operates what is regarded as the world's most extensive system of internet controls. Its filters try to block the Chinese public from seeing websites abroad operated by news outlets, governments and human rights and other activist groups. Chinese journalists have been prosecuted on charges of spying, leaking national secrets and picking quarrels, a vague accusation used to jail dissidents. Others are subjected to surveillance, intimidation and harassment. Also Read: China's foreign minister makes rare visit to Myanmar border Journalist Dong Yuyu, who worked at a ruling party-affiliated newspaper and is a former Harvard University fellow, faces espionage charges after being detained for more than one year, his family said last week. In 2022, Chinese-born Australian journalist Cheng Lei was tried in China on national security charges but has yet to learn the verdict, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in March. Cheng worked for CGTN, the English-language state TV channel aimed at foreign audiences. She was detained in August 2019 and accused of sharing state secrets. In Hong Kong, the Communist Party forced a prominent newspaper, Apple Daily, to shut down as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy sentiment. Apple Daily's founder, Jimmy Lai, was convicted of fraud last year that his supporters said were politically motivated. Six other former executives of the newspaper pleaded guilty.
Bangladesh has ranked 163rd out of 180 nations, according to Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) World Press Freedom Index 2023. Bangladesh is behind both Pakistan and Afghanistan in this year’s index – with Pakistan ranking 150th and Afghanistan ranking 152nd. According to RSF: “The Digital Security Act (DSA) is one of the world’s most draconian laws for journalists. It permits searches and arrests without any form of warrant, violation of the confidentiality of journalists’ sources for arbitrary reasons… In this legislative environment, editors routinely censor themselves.” “Most of the leading private media are owned by a handful of big businessmen who have emerged during Bangladesh’s economic boom. They see their media outlets as tools for exercising influence and maximising profits, and they prioritise good relations with the government over the safeguard of editorial independence,” it adds. From previous year: B'desh slips 10 notches in RSF press freedom index The World Press Freedom Index’s analysis for Bangladesh further says: “In the past decade, radical Islamist groups have waged extremely violent campaigns that have led to journalists being murdered. These groups now use social media to track down journalists who defend secularism, the right to alternative opinions or religious freedom.” Asia, in general, did not fare well when it comes to press freedom. India ranked 161st and China ranked 179th in the World Press Freedom Index. Regarding India, the index’s observations are: “Modi has an army of supporters who track down all online reporting regarded as critical of the government and wage horrific harassment campaigns against the sources. Caught between these two forms of extreme pressure, many journalists are, in practice, forced to censor themselves.” Reporters Without Borders noted that India has seen a significant decline in press freedom in recent years, with increasing threats and attacks on journalists, while China remains “one of the world’s most repressive countries” when it comes to media freedom. Read More: Repeal DSA, demands TIB marking World Press Freedom Day “The same trend can be found in Bangladesh (163rd) and Cambodia (147th), where governmental persecution of independent media has intensified in the run-up to elections that are due to be held in the coming months,” it says. The top ten countries in the index, with the highest press freedom, are: Norway, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia, Portugal, and Timor-Leste. These countries have strong democratic institutions and robust legal frameworks that protect the freedom of the press and the right to information. The report highlights the need for governments to prioritize the protection of journalists and the promotion of press freedom as a fundamental human right. It also calls on the international community to take action to hold governments accountable for violating these rights and to support independent journalism around the world. Read More: Hasan trashes RSF report on press freedom as malicious & unacceptable
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will address a press conference at 4:00 pm on Wednesday on the outcome of her two-week visit to the United Kingdom and France, PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim said on Tuesday. Sheikh Hasina went on the foreign visit on October 31 and returned home on November 14. Read:France showers immense honour on PM Hasina In the UK the prime minister attended the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) at Glasgow in Scotland and Bangladesh Investment Summit 2021 in London. During her visit to France she handed over the first Unesco-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Prize for the Creative Economy as well as joined the 75th founding anniversary event of Unesco and the Paris Peace Forum in Paris. Sheikh Hasina also had meetings with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, French Prime Minister Jean Castex, French Prime Minister Jean Castex, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other heads of state or government. Read: Unite for common good: Hasina to global leaders Besides, she had meetings with UK's Prince Charles, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland, Bill Gates, as well as other important dignitaries from different organisations and business bodies. The PM joined three civic receptions accorded to her by the Bangladeshi expatriates living in Scotland, London and Paris.
A study of the public’s attitude toward the press reveals that distrust goes deeper than partisanship and down to how journalists define their very mission. In short: Americans want more than a watchdog. The study, released Wednesday by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration between the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, suggests ways that news organizations can reach people they may be turning off now. “In some ways, this study suggests that our job is broader and bigger than we’ve defined it,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute. The study defines five core principles or beliefs that drive most journalists: keep watch on public officials and the powerful; amplify voices that often go unheard; society works better with information out in the open; the more facts people have the closer they will get to the truth; and it’s necessary to spotlight a community’s problems to solve them. Yet the survey, which asked non-journalists a series of questions designed to measure support for each of those ideas, found unqualified majority support for only one of them. Two-thirds of those surveyed fully supported the fact-finding mission. Half of the public embraced the principle that it’s important for the media to give a voice to the less powerful, according to the survey, and slightly less than half fully supported the roles of oversight and promoting transparency. Less than a third of the respondents agreed completely with the idea that it’s important to aggressively point out problems. Only 11% of the public, most of them liberals, offered full support to all five ideas. “I do believe they should be a watchdog on the government, but I don’t think they should lean either way,” said Annabell Hawkins, 41, a stay-at-home mother from Lawton, Oklahoma. “When I grew up watching the news it seemed pretty neutral. You’d get either side. But now it doesn’t seem like that.” Hawkins said she believed the news media spent far too much time criticizing former President Donald Trump and rarely gave him credit for anything good he did while in office. “I just want the facts about what happened so I can make up my own mind,” said Patrick Gideons, a 64-year-old former petroleum industry supervisor who lives south of Houston. He lacks faith in the news media because he believes it offers too much opinion. Gideons, though, said he gets most of his news through social media, which is skilled in directing followers toward beliefs they are comfortable with. He said he knows only one person who subscribes to a newspaper anymore — his 91-year-old father. Polls show how the public’s attitude toward the press has soured over the past 50 years and, in this century, how it has become much more partisan. In 2000, a Gallup poll found 53% of Democrats said they trusted the media, compared with 47% of Republicans. In the last full year of the Trump presidency, Gallup found trust went up to 73% among Democrats and plunged to 10% among Republicans. The survey’s findings point to some ways news organizations can combat the negativity. Half a century ago, when newspapers were flourishing and before the internet and cable television led to an explosion in opinionated news, the public’s view of the role of journalists was more compatible to how journalists viewed the job themselves, Rosenstiel said. “We were the tough guys, we were the cops,” he said. The study indicates now that consumers are interested in news that highlights potential solutions to problems and want to hear about things that are working, he said. “We tend to think that stories that celebrate the good things in society are soft stories, kind of wimpy,” he said. “But they may be more important than we think in providing a full and accurate picture of the world.” People who put greater emphasis on loyalty and authority tend to be more skeptical of the core values that journalists try to uphold, as opposed to those who give greater weight to fairness, the study found. Changes in the way a story is framed can make it more widely appealing to different audiences. In one example, researchers took a story about a canceled recreation center project in a low-income neighborhood and emphasized the element, less prominent in the original story, that the parks director had diverted funds designated for the project by the city’s mayor. The change led to the story being seen as more trusted and appealing by a broader set of the public, especially those made who place value in authority. The nationwide survey was conducted with 2,727 adults in the fall of 2019, with a second set of interviews done last August with 1,155 people who had completed the first survey. The study found that majorities of Americans believe that the media doesn’t care about them and tries to cover up its mistakes. Despite the negativity, Rosenstiel said he believes there’s room for both sides to come to a better understanding of each other. Believe it or not, most journalists are pretty sincere, said Rosenstiel, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times and Newsweek. “Regular people should note that when journalists say they are just doing their job, they actually mean that,” he said, “because they define their job a certain way. They’re not lying. They really don’t think of themselves as secret agents of the Democratic Party. They have these set of principles that they think they’re upholding.”