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UN World Press Freedom Day


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Lecture by Mark Hillary at USP in São Paulo on May 15 2013 on press freedom for the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day event hosted at USP by the British Embassy - a GREAT Campaign event

Published in: News & Politics, Education
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UN World Press Freedom Day

  1. 1. DiaInternacionaldaLiberdade de Imprensa 2013USP São Paulo : 15 de maio de 2013Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom ofExpression in All MediaMark Hillary
  2. 2. This talk…• Recent events in the UK… press scandalsand inquiries• What is the press today?Can the press beregulated or controlled and what does thismean for the freedom of the press?• Digital journalism
  3. 3. What is the press for?“…Now the girl let the fat man touch herVodka fumes and the feel of a vultureThe driver waited in the embassy carThe fat mans trap was set for captureSo the girl let the thin man touch herMixing questions, drunken laughterThe ministry car was waiting thereA minister knows his own affairThe people must have something good toread on a Sunday…”The Clash ‘The Leader’Toinform, entertain, expose, educate?
  4. 4. UK Parliament• In 2009 The Daily Telegraph publisheduncensored details of the expense claim ofevery British Member of Parliament – goingback years• The claims detailed abuse and fraud alongsidelegal – but extravagant – claims• Several MPs were forced to repay money andsome went to jail• The Telegraph paid £110,000 (R$300k) for theinformation, other publications turned itdown, yet the source has never been revealed
  5. 5. News International• News International journalists in the UK wereaccused of illegally hacking into the voicemail ofcelebrities and politicians from 2005 to 2007• By 2011 it became clear that journalists hadbeen accessing the voicemail of deadsoldiers, murder victims, and victims of terroristattacks• Not only did the public feeloutraged, advertisers shunned the NI title ‘Newsof the World’ – a Sunday newspaper that hadbeen published since 1843. Rupert Murdochclosed the newspaper in 2011
  6. 6. Leveson• In 2011, British Prime Minister David Cameronasked Lord Justice Leveson to explore theculture, ethics, and practice of the British press –as a reaction to the News International scandal•Leveson published his inquiry report inNovember 2012• The most important recommendation was thecreation of an independent body to oversee thepress – to replace the ‘toothless’ PressComplaints Commission
  7. 7. What’s wrong with Leveson?• Nude photos of PrinceHarry were viewed 25mtimes before any UKnewspaper printed them• In over 1mwords, Leveson mentionsthe Internet only a fewhundred times• A million words talkingof how the press used tobe, not how it is
  8. 8. Why does it matter?• Regulation still matters while there areprofessional journalists• It provides a set of guidelines for reporters andeditors – reporters are protected by professionalguidelines and ethical standards• But there are examples like the UKparliamentary expenses scandal where theinformation was clearly stolen – was it unethicalto pay for stolen information even if the publicsupported the end result?
  9. 9. What is the press?• The Huffington Post has more readers thanthe BBC, The New YorkTimes, Fox, NBC, Reuters…• It’s a blog
  10. 10. What is the press?• Over 1m readers checkTMZ every day for celebritynews and gossip• It’s better and faster thanany traditional mediasource• Mail Online had 50.1munique readers in Oct2012, the most popularnews site in the world
  11. 11. What is a journalist?• Anyone can publish globally.. 24/7 and evenfrom a phone without visiting an office orchecking with an editor• Video, photos, blogs, tweets… all forms ofpublishing can be shared, copied, distributedand if a story is of enough interest it willattract the attention of the ‘majors’• This is Citizen Journalism
  12. 12. What is a journalist?• Occupy Movement• Egypt Revolution• Hurricane Sandy• Plane crash in the Hudsonriver• People havephones, cameras, video, Internet, in their pocket…citizens broke all thesestories first
  13. 13. Can it be controlled?• Short answer is no• Brands can adopt ethical standards andcodes of practice and employ professionaljournalists – readers still value brands•But anyone can start a blog… how populardoes it have to be before it is considered apart of ‘the media’ – our most popular newssources are already blogs and social medianot the traditional media
  14. 14. Think of it like this• You create a news site focused on storiesabout Brazil… an online Veja•You write the stories outside Brazil (inPortuguese) and host the server outsideBrazil – is it a Brazilian magazine?• The readers are all in Brazil, but the writersand content are all based outside Brazil… thelaws of Brazil have no relevance to thisjournal, or do they?
  15. 15. Is this positive?• The positive aspect of the Internet and thedemocratisation of publishing is that it isalmost impossible for a government to nowsuppress access to information• Censorship in the traditional sense isimpossible – see Wikileaks for proof• But… what do we lose?
  16. 16. Is this positive?• Professional writers can cut through the noiseand focus on what matters• Ethics and accuracy still matter to brands• Traditional print journals still don’t know howto survive in this world… some are entirely freeand some are insisting on paywalls – nobodyagrees on the right approach to onlinepublishing of news• It is harder to launch a career in journalism asthe industry itself struggles to understand thefuture – nobody starts on a local paper today
  17. 17. The topic is not really freedom…it is now survival“…Could it be aninfringementOf the freedom of thepressTo print pictures of womenin states of undress…”Billy Bragg: ‘It says here’
  18. 18. Mark