freedom of press

Event Recap: Journalism Under Fire Webinar

January 5, 2021

In a special webinar on November 16, 2020, UCI Office of Global Engagement explored the role of journalism in the world today, and the increase in attacks on journalists and the outlets they represent. Freedom of the press, free speech and journalism in various government models were discussed with experts on Hong Kong, Lebanon and Russia.

Speaker recap:

Yuen Chan, Print, television and radio journalist in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing correspondent, and Senior Lecturer, Department of Journalism, City, University of London

  • Bao Choy, a producer of a program on police collusion with gangs, was attacked at the height of a protest.
  • Choy was arrested for using public records to trace vehicles in the vicinity of gang attacks in which the police were unresponsive.
  • Press freedom is dead because of the national security law in Hong Kong.
  • Relations between the police and media are very strained, commonly involving rubber bullet and pepper spray attacks.

Zahera Harb, Senior Lecturer, Dept of Journalism, City, University of London and Director of MA International Journalism and MA Media and Globalisation

  • Police in Lebanon can obstruct journalists with no repercussions.
  • Journalists are being detained on a false basis of libel and defamation, which normally is not an offense requiring jail.
  • While broadcasting live, some journalists are one journalist was attacked by “protesters,” who are merely undercover security agents. 
  • One common trend is that it is increasingly difficult for journalists to do their job across the Arab region.

James Rodgers, Reader in International Journalism, Associate Dean of Global Engagement, City, University of London

  • In Russia, the state or allies of the state have taken over all media outlets, especially television.
  • Few in the English speaking world have been to Russia, so reporting has had disproportionate influence on the outside world.
  • Some media outlets, such as the Meduza Project, have moved outside of Russia due to excessive interference in the country.
  • Now the state conducts a media war, where they have vastly greater resources, and attacks the messages of other media.
  • Vladimir Putin has an 85% approval rating but does not allow critical voices.

Notes from Q&A:

  • If repressive governments see President Trump (United States) and Boris Johnson (United Kingdom) attack journalists publicly, they feel encouraged.
  • Social media can be huge in uncovering these repressions, all dissenting commentaries are shut down quickly.
  • VPNs can be used, but they have been outlawed and some even arrested for using VPNs.

UCI is committed to supporting our community members from around the world who share the values of learning and discovery to make the world a better place. The UC system complies with applicable laws and regulations and actively advocates for policies that further its academic mission.

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