August 26, 2021
Russia Further Restricts Free Press
On August 20, Russia labeled two more news agencies as “foreign agents.” This requires them to label all stories and social media posts as foreign agent and subjects them to increased audits. It is speculated that Russia’s recent crackdown on the free press is an effort to restrict and control the news ahead of parliamentary elections next month. Read more.
Taliban Continues Oppressing Press
As the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan, citizens have faced increasing danger amid the chaos. Journalists have been particularly at risk. The Taliban has removed two female journalists from their positions at a broadcasting station and beaten at least two other journalists. In an interview with the International Center for Journalists, Afghan journalist Sami Mahdi said the Taliban has not changed, only gotten better at PR and technology as he faces the stifling of expression. U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet is to report back to the U.N. about the Taliban’s actions in the September-October session. Read more.
August 18, 2021
DOJ Formally Adopts Policy to Protect Press
On July 19, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it formally adopted a new policy restricting the use of a compulsory process to obtain information from or records of journalists acting within the scope of their work. Attorney General Merrick Garland expressed that he wants these changes to be durable and directed the Deputy Attorney General to begin the process necessary to codify the policy into DOJ regulations. Read more.
Taliban Allows Media, if they Promote Taliban’s Values
On August 17, the Taliban hosted a press conference addressing citizens’ concerns. In addressing the role of the media, they said the media is important and they welcome the media to critique their work. However, they emphasized that the media should not go against Islamic values, should not promote bad values, and should work only for the unity of Afghanistan. They also said they are committed to the rights of women, but only so far as Sharia rules allow.
August 16, 2021
Afghan Journalists in Danger, Need Short and Long Term Solutions
On August 16, freelancers, stringers, and other comparable arrangements were added to the “employee” definition to qualify for Priority-2 U.S. Refugee Admission from Afghanistan, following a letter from over 20 news organizations, including the Alliance. This expansion is a pivotal response to the chaos in Afghanistan, as the Taliban takes over Kabul and specifically targets journalists with particular aggression towards female journalists. The safety of these journalists, as well as their ability to operate without danger in neighboring countries is the immediate concern. As for a long term solution, the Special Immigrant Visas should contain a specific media carveout in order to protect foreign journalists and allow them to relocate to the United States. While the timing and costs of these solutions remain at issue, ensuring the safety of the many endangered journalists is the predominant priority. Read more.
Nicaraguan Police Arrest Journalist
On August 14, Nicaraguan officials arrested the manager of La Presna—a newspaper that was critical of the Nicaraguan government, calling the president a “dictator” among other criticisms. This arrest came after the police raided La Presna’s office and charged its directors with fraud. This isn’t the first time the newspaper has faced backlash, as the government had impounded its ink and paper, forcing it to only publish digitally. The Police claimed these arrests were only related to claims of fraud and money laundering. Read more.
August 11, 2021
NSA Launches Internal Investigation into Claims it Monitored the Press
On August 10, the NSA’s internal watchdog said it will investigate allegations that they were targeting and improperly surveilling a member of the press. Tucker Carlson accused the NSA of spying on him after he was allegedly contacted by a whistleblower, in an effort to force him off the air. The NSA denied those allegations, but still launched an internal investigation to ensure no found play. Read more.
Members of the News Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.