Australia's raids on journalists signal an authoritarian turning point

Yesterday's spectacular series of raids on Australian journalists by the Australian Federal Police are a turning point in how democracies view the role of the press and leaks: the raid targeted News Corp's Annika Smethurst over her reporting on a secret plan to grant the Australian Signals Directorate -- a spy agency -- the power to surveil Australians; 2GB radio's Ben Fordham over his reporting on human rights abuses of refugees; and ABC Sydney's offices over their 2017 Afghan files reports, which documented war-crimes and other misconduct by Australian military personnel. Read the rest

Crackdown on journalism in Australia

Australia "may well be the world's most secretive democracy," writes Damien Cave in The New York Times. It's cracking down on journalism that embarrasses the government, using arrests, raids and expansive warrants to chill reporting to an alarming extent.

The journalist whose home was raided Tuesday, Annika Smethurst of The Sunday Telegraph of Sydney, had the authorities rifling through her belongings for more than seven hours. At the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday, the police downloaded more than 9,000 documents based on a warrant giving them authority to examine phones and notebooks of many journalists that had nothing to do with the articles in question.

“No turf, no terrain is off the books,” said Joseph Fernandez, a media law expert at Curtin University in Perth. “The law is very very wide reaching, and it is very disturbing.”

He added that it was hard to imagine how any of these articles could have been construed as a threat to national security rather than simply an embarrassment for officials and politicians.

Read the rest

Survey: 50% of Americans believe 'made-up news' is a very big problem for the country today. 46% say the same about climate change.

More Americans view made-up news as a 'very big problem' for the country, over terrorism, illegal immigration, racism, and sexism.

U.S. charges Julian Assange under Espionage Act

The U.S. Department of Justice today indicted Wikileaks' Julian Assange under the Espionage Act, the first time a publisher has been charged for revealing classified information.

Kevin Poulsen and Betsy Woodruff:

The indictment announced Thursday in Washington, D.C. charges Assange with 16 counts of variously receiving or disclosing material leaked by then-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, which WikiLeaks published as the Iraq and Afghanistan “War Logs” following Manning’s arrest. Assange is also charged with one count of conspiracy to receive the documents, and an 18th count carries over the previous charge against Assange accusing him of conspiring to violate computer hacking laws.

Assange, recently extracted from London's Ecuadorian embassy after his hosts there tired of his presence, is already serving a yearlong sentence in Britain for jumping bail in a sexual assault case. He already faces extradition to the U.S. on computer-crime charges—and possibly to Sweden, where prosecutors revived the assault case after his arrest.

Many U.S. media outlets were first to publish Wikileaks' material, working directly with Assange, and some won Pulitzer prizes for it. As University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck puts it:

"The issue isn't whether Assange is a "journalist"; this will be a major test case because the text of the _Espionage Act_ doesn't distinguish between what Assange allegedly did and what mainstream outlets sometimes do, even if the underlying facts/motives are radically different."

The actual whistleblower/leaker in the case, Chelsea Manning, served several years in jail for it. She is currently being held again, after rufusing to give further evidence to a grand jury in the Assange case. Read the rest

Reporters who quote ums and ahs only make themselves look bad

Here's an interesting example of how journalists sometimes use a version of the facts to support faleshoods. Check out the following, posted by Daily Mail reporter David Martosko, quoting a teenager on Trump's use of the racist "Pocahontas" slur.

At the Elizabeth Warren rally I asked a 17-year-old supporter who will vote next year to comment on Trump's "Pocahontas" nickname for the senator. This is a verbatim transcript of her answer.

"I think that it's really hypocritical because not only is he making fun of someone for like, something that she didn't really like, say, um, but I do feel like he says so many like, racial slurs against like, and she just like presents themselves to be like, so like negative towards like minorities and stuff like that, that the fact that he is mocking her and calling her Pocahontas when he does nothing for Native American rights is really freaking dumb.

What Martosko wanted to establish here was that the teen—and perhaps by implication young Warren supporters in general—is confused and foolish. He did this by including all the ums and ahs of speech, filler terms such as "like", and extraneous commas.

Most people saw this "verbatim" text for what it was, and Martosko was thoroughly ratioed by readers.

But what, like, is going here?

The fact is that most of us talk just as the teen did, when challenged to speak extemporaneously. This can be true of even polished and well-prepared speakers. Listen to politicans and pundits on cable news panels, with an ear for the fillers, and you might be surprised. Read the rest

Gizmodo to be acquired for second time in 4 years

“Private equity firm Great Hill Partners has agreed to acquire Gizmodo Media Group from Univision, forming a new company led by digital media exec Jim Spanfeller,” reports the Wall Street Journal's Benjamin Mullin. Read the rest

Intelligence officials sue to end pre-publication government review of writings

The action was brought in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, against DNI Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, NSA Director Paul Nakasone, and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

Ars Technica is looking for a "technology and society" reporter

If you've got 3+ years of experience and want to cover "the growing political and cultural Big Tech backlash,' copyright clashes, the culture of Silicon Valley firms, tech-policy battles, and important tech-related court cases" then Ars Technica wants to hire you. Read the rest

Eyewitnesses say Pittsburgh-Post Gazette publisher John Robinson Block fired journalists while screaming drunk

Eyewitnesses say the publisher of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette drunkenly stumbled through the newsroom screaming at journalists, firing them-- and demanded that a photo of him and his daughter be published on the front page. Meanwhile, his daughter screamed, “Please, please Daddy no!” Read the rest

Teen journalists profile each of the 1,200+ US children killed by guns since Parkland

More than 200 teen journalists have come together to write Since Parkland, which profiles each of the more than 1,200 children killed by guns in the USA since the Parkland shooting (not including suicides, kids killed by cops, or shooters who were themselves killed while committing shootings): "The reporting you will read in 'Since Parkland' is journalism in one of its purest forms — revealing the human stories behind the statistics — carried out on an exhaustive scale." A reminder that we do more to keep kids from getting their shots than we do to keep them from getting shot. (via Kottke) Read the rest

The problem with all the mistakes in Jill Abramson's book on journalism is you'll never know who wrote them

Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times, has a book out about journalism, ethics and truth. Unfortunately, many paragraphs turned out to be plagiarized from other writers. To the seemingly oblivious Abramson, it seems incomprehensible that this might be a problem. To her publishers, the vast sunk costs involved (it paid about $1m for the copied-and-pasted hackintome) have forced them to pretend that it isn't.

And then there's the errors. Even before it was out, reviewers noticed problems ranging from major cities situated in the wrong states to insulting factual flubs about the young journalists Abramson thinks she's schooling.

And now this, spotted by Chris Krewson:

CPM refers to cost per mille, a measure used in advertising, and makes no sense as written here. In any case, it certainly was not a term devised by Nick Denton to calculate traffic bonuses.

"The lack of understanding about digital is stunning," Krewson writes.

Ah, but whose lack of understanding about digital?

The problem with all the mistakes in Jill Abramson's book on journalism is you'll never know who made them. It's the paradox of plagiarism: all discussion that depends on authorship, intent, context -- all of it becomes pointless. You can't very well blame Abramson for someone else's mistake, can you?1

Her book supposedly honors the traditions of 20th century journalism but has become a gravestone marking their death. The corpses will now be fucked by social media companies, billionaires and fascists until there's nothing left to fuck but the cold stone where they lay. Read the rest

Prominent newspapers across the United States come under cyberattack

2018 has been a dangerous year for those who bring us the news: according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 129 journalists were killed this year. For the first time in history, the United States has been listed as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists to ply their trade. The President of the United States has been calling the media industry an "enemy of the people" for the past two years. Many of his acolytes have bought into his bullshit: news rooms have come under assault by gunmen. Bomb threats against TV stations have been made on a number of occasions. Nicaragua's government has hamstrung the nation's independent press. Jamal Khashoggi of The Washington Post was strangled and sawed to pieces by Saudi operatives. President Trump pretty much shrugged his shoulders and got on with his life. The hate and distrust showered on those working to cast light on the dark secrets that our governments would rather not be known are a budding fascist's wet dream.

And now, many of the nation's newspapers of record have suffered a cyberattack.

From The Los Angeles Times:

A cyberattack that appears to have originated from outside the United States caused major printing and delivery disruptions at several newspapers across the country on Saturday including the Los Angeles Times, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

The attack led to distribution delays in the Saturday edition of The Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and several other major newspapers that operate on a shared production platform.

Read the rest

The incredible story of Susan Potter, the "immortal corpse"

In the year 2,000, Susan Potter, then 72, donated her body to medicine. After Potter died, scientists froze her corpse, sliced it into 27,000 slivers thinner than a human hair, photographed each slice, and created "the world’s most advanced virtual cadaver using the highest-quality imagery of an entire human body in existence." Not only is the virtual cadaver an incredible accomplishment but so is National Geographic's story about Potter and the lead researcher, Dr. Vic Spitzer Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Simulation at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Why? Because National Geographic followed this incredible story of the Visible Human Project for almost two decades, from before Potter died through the completion of the simulation. Watch the documentary above. From National Geographic:

Are you interested in working with us before you die? (Spitzer) finally asked (Potter). Are you interested in giving us more than just your body—in giving us your personality and knowledge?

Spitzer wanted to videotape her while she was living and record her talking about her life, her health, her medical history. Your pathology isn’t that interesting to the project, Spitzer told Potter. But if I could capture you talking to medical students, when they’re looking at slices of your body, you could tell them about your spine—why you didn’t want the surgery, what kind of pain the surgery caused, and what kind of life you led after the surgery. That would be fascinating.

“They’ll see her body while they’re hearing her stories,” he explained, adding that video and audio of her would make her more real and introduce the element of emotion to students.

Read the rest

Tanzania detains reporters Angela Quintal and Muthoki Mumo

The Committee to Protect Journalists says authorities in Tanzania have forcibly detained Angela Quintal, Africa program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Muthoki Mumo, CPJ's sub-Saharan Africa representative. Their passports were seized. Read the rest

The media "blowing it again" in last days of election, but "not as badly" as last time

Former New York Times ombudsman Margaret Sullivan can't believe the media is making the same mistakes it made in the run up to the 2016 election: "Too many journalists allow Trump to lead them around by the nose, which is why you’ve heard so very much about that migrant caravan in recent weeks."

With the president as their de facto assignment editor, too many seem to respond “how high?” when Trump says jump.

Wide-eyed coverage of his politically driven pet issues — primarily the supposed horrors of immigration — has dominated the past few weeks of news, with a fixation on the refugees coming north through Mexico. ... Journalists too often parrot what the president says, and giddily follow his shiny-object distractions du jour.

Singled out for brutal criticism are Axios's Jonathan Swan, The Hill, Fox News and other usual suspects who breathlessly convey Trump's wisdom without skepticism or journalistic acumen. But she also praises other outlets for getting over their squeamish indifference to lies and reporting them as such, and for the trend of sucessfully ignoring vacuous Trumpspeak.

I made a picture for you (above) for use later this week on social media, when it really starts to sink in. Read the rest

Footage of Khashoggi "body double" in his clothes after murder

According to CNN, surveillance footage show one of the Saudi men suspected of murdering Jamal Khashoggi wearing the dead man's clothes and a fake beard while walking around Istanbul as a decoy. From CNN:

A senior Turkish official told CNN that the video showed that Madani was brought to Istanbul to act as a body double.

"You don't need a body double for a rendition or an interrogation," the official said. "Our assessment has not changed since October 6. This was a premeditated murder and the body was moved out of the consulate..."

Four hours earlier Madani had entered the consulate by the front door, alongside an alleged accomplice. Saudi's forensic medicine chief Salah al-Tubaiqi, another key suspect who was identified using facial recognition analysis together with CNN's timeline of events that day, was also present. The video appears to show Madani without a beard, wearing a blue and white checked shirt and dark blue trousers. When he exited the consulate dressed as Khashoggi, the video then appears to show him wearing the same dark pair of sneakers with white soles that he first arrived in prior to the journalist's death. "Khashoggi's clothes were probably still warm when Madani put them on," the senior Turkish official told CNN.

Read the rest

This 'Emoji First Amendment' coffee mug supports good journalism ☕

It's an emoji-fied version of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Read the rest

More posts