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Entries in Journalism (3)

Thursday
May242012

Somali Journalist Gunned Down, Sixth Killed in 5 Months

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- A local journalist was gunned down in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, becoming the sixth journalist killed so far this year and putting the east African nation on track to have its deadliest year ever for media workers.

Ahmed Addow Anshur, who worked at a local radio station, was murdered by four armed assailants on motorcycles near a market midday Wednesday, according to the National Union for Somali Journalists (NUSOJ). NUSOJ said the attackers escaped the scene and the motive for the killing is not yet known.

Anshur's death marks the sixth killing of a local journalist in Somalia since the new year and the second this month, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In a statement, the NUSOJ said the targeting of journalists is part of a concerted effort to "undermine the media freedom and freedom of expression," but the organization's Secretary General, Mohammed Ibrahim, said it's often difficult to tell who is actually be behind the attacks.

Somalia has been rocked by violence for the past two decades as the transitional government battles militant Islamists, including the al Qaeda-allied terrorist organization al-Shabaab, for control of the country. Al-Shabaab, which includes in its ranks several American-born fighters such as the rapping jihadist Omar Hammami, occasionally claims responsibility or is blamed for the killings, but other times -- such as in Anshur's case -- the journalists are gunned down in areas controlled by the government.

There are also a variety of violent criminal gangs to consider, Ibrahim said, not to mention journalists who are simply caught in the crossfire.

"[The journalists] know that it's risky, it's deadly, but they respect their profession," said Ibrahim, a veteran Somali journalist who is the first recipient of the Galloway Family Foundation Fellowship for International Investigative Reporting at the ABC News Brian Ross Investigative Unit. "They report to the outside world the situation on the ground. It is a great bravery."

Before coming to the U.S., Ibrahim contributed reporting from Somalia to the New York Times and worked closely with Pulitzer prize-winning Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman.

The United Nations special representative to Somalia condemned Anshur's murder in a statement today and said journalism in the war-torn nation is "essential to a free and functioning society."

"It is well known that Somali journalists have the most difficult working conditions in the world," the U.N. representative, Dr. Augustine Mahiga, said. "But that does not make it any easier to accept when one is brutally killed. Ahmed Addow Anshur was targeted in cold blood for carrying out his doing his job as a professional journalist..."

In all, the CPJ counts 41 journalists that have been killed in Somalia since 1992 and has named the country the most dangerous on the continent for media workers. The deadliest year to date was 2009, in which nine journalists were killed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul272011

Piers Morgan Defends Phone Hacking Denials

Turner Broadcasting(NEW YORK) -- Former Fleet Street editor and current CNN host Piers Morgan says he in no way has admitted to knowledge of phone hacking by his staff when he was editor of two of Rupert Murdoch's British tabloids.

Morgan was responding to British political blogger Paul Staines who blogs under the name Guido Fawkes and who claimed to have discovered a 2009 recording where some interpret Morgan as admitting knowledge of the hacking and other unsavory activities by Murdoch journalists.

Morgan says "there is no contradiction" between his 2009 comments to BBC radio host Kirsty Young and his "unequivocal statements with regard to phone-hacking."

"Millions of people heard these comments when I first made them in 2009 on one of the BBC's longest-running radio shows, and none deduced that I was admitting to, or condoning illegal reporting activity," Morgan said in a statement Wednesday to ABC News. "Kirsty asked me a fairly lengthy question about how I felt dealing with people operating at the sharp end of investigative journalism. My answer was not specific to any of the numerous examples she gave, but a general observation about tabloid newspaper reporters and private investigators."

Morgan spent last week denying that he was involved in phone hacking while editor of News of the World and the Daily Mirror after a member of Parliament accused him of publishing an article obtained by phone hacking.

"For the record, in my time at the News of the World and the Mirror, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room.

"As I have said before, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone," Morgan concluded in his statement.

In the June 2009 interview, Morgan was asked how he felt about so-called "gutter" journalistic practices, such as digging through trash cans and tapping people's phones to get information and taking secret photographs. "To be honest, let's put that in perspective as well. Not a lot of that went on. A lot of it was done by third parties rather than the staff themselves. That's not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work," he said. "I'm quite happy to be parked in the corner of tabloid beast and to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to, and I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do."

"I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide, and certainly encompassed the high and low end of the supposed newspaper market," Morgan told the BBC interviewer.

Morgan, who's also a judge on America's Got Talent, served as editor at News of the World in 1994 and 1995, before helming the Mirror, where he stayed until 2004.

Last week, during a Parliamentary hearing with Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch, whose now closed News of the World is at the center of the scandal, committee member Louise Mensch accused Morgan of publishing an article in 2002 that had been obtained via phone hacking.

Morgan denied the accusation and demanded an apology from Mensch.

He's also fighting off accusations from James Hipwell, a former Daily Mirror financial columnist who called illegal phone hacking "endemic" during Morgan's tenure.

"Piers was extremely hands-on as an editor," Hipwell told British newspaper The Independent Saturday. "I can't say 100 percent that he knew about it. But it was inconceivable he didn't."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul212011

China Shuts Down Top Investigative Reporting Team

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- An investigative reporting unit led by one of China's top investigative reporters has been shut down in what a member of the unit told ABC News was a "shocking" move partly caused by government pressure.

Members of the China Economic Times investigative unit were told during a Monday-morning meeting of the Beijing-based newspaper's entire editorial staff that they would reassigned to other jobs as part of a "reshuffling."

Wang Kiqen, leader of the unit, would not comment when contacted, but fellow reporter Liu Jianfeng told ABC News that management said the paper needs to focus more on hard economic news.

"I was shocked," said Liu. Liu said that he thought the team had fallen victim to both internal and external politics. "It was due to a combination of a debate within the newspaper about the proper editorial direction," said Liu, "and pressure from a government agency above them."

A reporter for the paper told the South China Morning Post that the paper's publisher and chairman, Han Lijun, said that the China Economic Times should focus on "positive economic reporting" and limit negative reporting to "commercial injustice and corporate corruption."

The China Economic Times is officially published by a government agency called the State's Council Development Research Center. According to a blog maintained by the University of Hong Kong's journalism faculty, a Chinese political leader visited the newspaper Monday morning to talk to staffers about "political struggle."

A spokeswoman for the China Economic Times told ABC News that the disbanding of the unit was "just a normal reshuffling of editorial departments."

Wang Keqin, 47, is famed for his reports on such subjects as cartels. During a lecture in 2007 at Princeton University, he said he has been repeatedly threatened for his reporting. He was beaten by unknown attackers with an iron rod in May 2007.

Immediately after the Monday meeting at the newspaper, Wang took to Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, to make a cryptic comment about freedom, quoting a passage from German poet Heinrich Heine that is inscribed on a memorial at Dachau, the former Nazi concentration camp.

"At the entrance to German Concentration Camp, encarved a maxim," wrote Wang. "When a government began to burn books without opposition, then it would burn people next."

Journalists decried the disbanding of the unit. Bob Dietz, Asia program coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, called the "apparent crackdown...a loss for China." Said Dietz, "The shutdown carries the hallmarks of a political measure to curb a leading news outlet's reporting that found disfavor within the government."

But observers did not place all the blame on the government. Zhan Jiang, a journalism professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, wrote that the China Economic Times investigative unit was not targeted by high-level leadership: "It should be understood as the intention of a handful of ignorant and incompetent people at the top of the newspaper." He wrote that there has actually been an "upsurge" in investigative reporting in China.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio