We no longer have to rely solely on reports from a handful of mainstream media outlets when news breaks in places like Ukraine or Gaza, and while that has made the news environment more chaotic it has also led to some significant benefits for journalism.
Vladimir Putin uses an invisible army of social media propagandists, in addition to conventional media, to support his narrative of an out-of-control Ukraine, to spread fabrications of atrocities by Ukrainian extremists, and to unleash destabilizing rumors on east Ukraine.
In 2005, Binyavanga Wainaina published a brilliantly sarcastic essay in Granta called “How to Write About Africa,” advising people on how to sound spiritual and compassionate while writing a book about the continent. “Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title,” Wainaina advised.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the internet as a CIA project. During a speech at a media forum in St. Petersburg, he said Russia would have to "fight for its interests" online. New laws passed in the last few days show just how serious he was.
Last Saturday, May 3, was annual World Press Freedom Day. This year, the state of press freedom is especially grim; journalists face imprisonment, kidnapping, and death for doing their jobs. “Unfortunately, we really don’t have a lot to celebrate,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The House is moving to overhaul the handful of taxpayer-funded media organizations, but critics say the changes would turn the Voice of America into a tool for pro-western propaganda. Last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed a bill to make “dramatic reforms” to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the government-backed outlets.
To commemorate World Press Freedom Day (May 3), reporters from around the globe, leaders of U.S. international media, and other staff of the Broadcasting Board of Governors today released an interactive presentation containing video testimonialsthat underscore the importance of press freedom.