China Hits US Media With New Rules In Tit-For-Tat Retaliation

This combination of file pictures created on April 4, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016 and China’s leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on December 5, 2012. Ed Jones, Paul J. RICHARDS / AFP

 

China tightened the rules on a number of US media outlets on Monday, in a move it said was “necessary and reciprocal” after Chinese journalists in America were hit with restrictions last week.

The world’s two largest economies, sparring over issues from trade and technology to human rights, have restricted visas for each other’s reporters, while China has expelled journalists.

After the US declared several more Chinese media outlets to be “foreign missions”, Beijing late Monday demanded that six US media groups report to the government about their staffing, finances and real estate.

They included the LA Times, Newsweek and the American Broadcasting Corporation.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a statement that the requirements were “legitimate and justified self-defense in every sense”.

“What the United States has done is exclusively targeting Chinese media organizations driven by the Cold War mentality and ideological basis,” Zhao added.

The moves are the latest in a series of tit-for-tat measures between Beijing and Washington.

Last week the US designated a further six Chinese media organisations as propaganda outlets that answer to the state.

It was the third round of US designations of Chinese outlets as foreign missions, which requires that they report details on their US-based staff and real estate transactions to the State Department.

The department earlier imposed rules on nine outlets including the official Xinhua news agency and China Global Television Network.

China has denounced the regulations and retaliated by expelling US citizens who work for major news organisations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

In May the US shortened the visa for Chinese journalists in the US to 90 days, and last month the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said Beijing was no longer renewing press credentials for US media employees in the country.

AFP

Media Must Rise To The Challenge Of Fake News – Gbajabiamila

A file photo of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaking at a meeting in Abuja.

 

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called on the media to rise to the challenge of fake news in Nigeria.

He believes this is important, especially as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic and fake news will not do the country any good.

Gbajabiamila made the call in a statement on Sunday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day.

He urged media practitioners to resist every temptation that would make them promote reportage that could be seen as anti-people.

READ ALSO: Nasarawa Assembly Member Dies Of COVID-19

“The choice is ours: either to make our country great through good reportage and analysis of issues, or to allow fake news and, in many cases, flagrant falsehood to take over the space,” the speaker said.

He added, “At this age of social/online media, the onus is on the real journalists to make a difference. But I believe that the Nigerian media would not do anything that will take us backward.

“I also want to believe that media practitioners in the country are ever committed to seeing the country move forward.”

Gbajabiamila lauded the doggedness of the media in reporting and helping in finding solutions to the challenges facing Nigeria over the years.

He noted that although the Nigerian media has contributed a lot in stabilising the country, it would not be out of place to call on media practitioners to be more factual about their reportage of activities in the society with a view to promoting development.

Commenting on this year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day – ‘Journalism Without Fear or Favour,’ the speaker said no country would thrive if the media spreads falsehood.

He asked the media to support the government in its drive to make a meaningful impact in the country, as well as call the same government to order where necessary.

“We must show patriotism in our dealings as media men and women. We must fight fake news, especially at this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

“I also wish to pay tribute to journalists who have been working hard at the frontline of reporting this pandemic at great personal cost,” Gbajabiamila said.

Buhari Praises Nigerian Media Amid COVID-19 Fight

President Muhammadu Buhari addressing the nation on April 28, 2020,

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday lauded the Nigerian media for its efforts in keeping people informed and educated amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The President’s comment was contained in a statement released by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, which is celebrated every May 3.

“We cannot overemphasize the role of the media in keeping people informed and educated on the pernicious virus, which has no friend or foe,” the President was quoted as saying in the statement.

“It simply seeks to mow down anyone and everyone in its path, and public awareness is very important, lest we become like sitting ducks. The media are doing this quite effectively.”

He charged the media further to continue its good work, “till we get to safe harbour, when the world, and our country are finally free of this greatest health challenge in recent history.”

Adesina’s statement also revealed that the President reflected on the World Press Freedom Day 2020 theme: ‘Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.’

Nigeria, the President believes, has a very unhealthy dose of disinformation, fake news, hate news, purveyed by people who use media platforms, particularly the digital variant.

“They don’t mean well for us, and no country can afford to close its eyes to the evil disinformation can cause,” the President said.

“In a plural polity like ours, it has the potential to rupture relationships, sow seeds of discord, and set on the path of destabilisation.

“When fake and hate news are added unabashedly, it can only signpost doom.

“I urge the Press to use the occasion of World Press Freedom Day to see how this can be vigorously tackled.”

Meanwhile, President Buhari pledged a re-commitment to the ideals of freedom of the press, noting that democracy thrives better in an atmosphere of transparency, as opposed to opacity.

“We appreciate the cooperation we have enjoyed from the media in tackling the coronavirus, and look forward to same, post COVID-19, when all hands must be on deck to repair the damages done to our economic and social lives,“ he said.

China Slams ‘Unacceptable’ US Tightening Rules On State Media

Tense Future For US-China Ties, With Or Without Trade Deal
This file picture taken on November 6, 2018 shows a Chinese and US flag at a booth during the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. JOHANNES EISELE / AFP

 

Beijing on Wednesday slammed Washington’s decision to tighten rules on Chinese state media organisations in the US and classify them as foreign missions, saying it was “unreasonable and unacceptable.”

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: China Arrests President Xi’s Critic

“The United States has always advertised freedom of the press, but it interferes with and obstructs the normal operation of Chinese media in the United States,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular briefing, warning: “We reserve the right to respond further to this matter.”

BBC Boss Tony Hall To Step Down In Six Months

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 15, 2018 Director-General of the BBC Tony Hall is seen waiting to greet Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as the royal couple visit BBC Broadcasting House in London on November 15, 2018.BEN STANSALL /POOL/ AFP

 

 

Embattled BBC boss Tony Hall will step down in six months’ time, he told staff on Monday, as the British broadcaster grapples with a damaging equal-pay ruling and scrutiny over funding.

“I will give my all to this organisation for the next six months… but in the summer I’ll step down as your Director-General,” he told staff in a group email.

“If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave. However, I believe that an important part of leadership is putting the interests of the organisation first.”

Hall took up his post in 2013, tasked with restoring the reputation of the world’s biggest broadcaster after presenter Jimmy Savile was exposed as one of Britain’s most prolific child-sex offenders following his death.

But the corporation now faces the fallout of an equal-pay ruling in which an employment tribunal ruled it discriminated against female presenter Samira Ahmed, paying her one sixth of the amount given to Jeremy Vine for hosting a similar show.

The ruling opens the door to many other claims and could end up costing the corporation many millions of pounds.

The BBC is also facing pressure from Britain’s new government headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which accuses it of bias in reporting in the recent general election.

Hall rebuffed the claims in his parting email, saying: “In an era of fake news, we remain the gold standard of impartiality and truth.”

The government has previously committed to maintain the licence fee model until 2027. A standard licence costs each British household just over £154 ($202, 182 euros) a year.

In the last financial year to April 30, the BBC received £3.7 billion in funding from the licence fee — an enviable revenue stream in tough economic times for media companies.

The prime minister has said that “you have to ask yourself whether that kind of approach to funding a TV media organisation still makes sense”.

“How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels,” he asked, highlighting the challenge for the incoming boss.

Chairman of the BBC David Clementi called Hall “an inspirational creative leader, within the UK and around the globe”.

“Tony has led the BBC with integrity and a passion for our values that is obvious to everyone who meets him,” he said.

Hall, 68, is a former head of BBC news but spent more than a decade as chief executive of the Royal Opera House before returning to the broadcaster as director general.

The BBC said it would begin searching for a successor “within the next few weeks.”

Iran Claims 80 Americans Killed By Missiles

Screenshot of missiles fired at an Iraq military bases used by US Troops. AFP

 

Iranian state television claimed that Wednesday missile strikes on bases in Iraq killed 80 Americans, in a report citing what it called an informed Revolutionary Guards source.

Iran launched 22 missiles overnight at the Iraqi bases used by US and other US-led coalition troops, the Iraqi army said.

“At least 80 American military (personnel) were killed in this attack,” the state television website reported.

In addition, it said, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and other military equipment had been severely damaged in the attack.

READ ALSO: Trump Says ‘All Is Well’ After Iranian Missiles Target US Troops

The Revolutionary Guards source said at least 140 targets of the US and their allies had been identified in the region and would be attacked “if the Americans commit any kind of mistake again”.

The source said 15 missiles hit Ain Al-Assad base and none was intercepted by “radars of America’s terrorist army”.

It was the first action of Iran’s promised revenge for the US killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq last week.

As ‘Streaming Wars’ Rage, Social Networks Create Their Own TV Series

 

Even as Disney, HBO and Apple lavish billions on content to gatecrash TV streaming wars, social networks like Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat are creating their own original shows to get their piece of the advertising pie.

Historically, these three social networks are better known for hosting user-generated content.

But in recent years, each has invested in scripted programming which is free to view — unlike the streaming giants, who charge subscriptions.

At one stage, YouTube planned to charge for shows such as “Karate Kid” spinoff “Cobra Kai” and Generation Z comedy “Liza on Demand” using its premium service. But it backtracked this year.

Free access “gives advertisers more opportunities to engage with a broader audience … and align with top Hollywood talent and YouTube creators,” the company said in May.

For YouTube, which has at times been condemned for the questionable content posted by users, offering high-quality series with production values matching conventional television also burnishes its reputation.

Quality not quantity

Mark Beal, a Rutgers professor who wrote a book (“Decoding Gen Z”) on the generation born since the mid-1990s, said young people “do not respond to traditional advertising.”

But they may be more receptive to branding tied to original content on platforms such as YouTube, he said.

Still, after its ambitious burst of content, YouTube has slowed down its original production, scrapping multiple new and existing programs to focus on a few successful shows.

Quality not quantity also appears to be Facebook’s strategy on scripted shows.

In mid-October, it released “Limetown,” a web drama starring Jessica Biel based on a popular podcast of the same name.

In addition to boosting the social network’s image with prestige content, the show helps drive its Facebook Watch video platform.

Both “Limetown” and Elizabeth Olsen-starring flagship show “Sorry for Your Loss” benefit from and drive interaction among Facebook’s nearly 2.5 billion monthly users.

“That, to me, is the most exciting part,” Michelle Purple, co-producer of “Limetown,” said at the Toronto film festival in September.

“From week to week, audiences can have their water cooler moment together and talk about what happened, and what they think is going to happen.”

“Sorry for Your Loss” tackles themes of grief, and moderators are on hand to offer online psychological support for users seeking help.

Both dramas are dark in tone and intended for older audiences, reflecting Facebook’s demographic compared to younger platforms, such as Snapchat and TikTok.

Smartphone dominance

While Snapchat also produces fictional programming to increase user interactions and time spent on its platform, it does so in its own distinctive way.

Episodes are typically only a few minutes long, shot at a frantic pace with flashy visual effects, and are filmed vertically to suit smartphone viewing.

And unlike YouTube and Facebook, Snapchat is not skimping on quantity.

In April, it announced six brand new scripted shows, followed by a further three in September, on top of those already available including sorority hacking comedy “Kappa Crypto” and supernatural mystery “The Dead Girls Detective Agency.”

Though a long way from the $15 million per episode Apple TV+ is throwing at flagship series “The Morning Show,” parent company Snap is still happy to spend up to $50,000 per episode, according to media website Digiday.

“Mobile is now the dominant medium for telling stories and consuming content,” said Snapchat original content head Sean Mills at a summit in April.

“This transformation is creating massive new opportunities.”

AFP

We Did Not Shut Out The Press From Legislative Business – Lawan

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said on Monday that it was share misrepresentation of fact to say that journalists were not allowed to cover the budget defence sessions going on at the National Assembly.

Lawan was reacting to report published in some dailies last week that the media were shut out of the coverage of the budget defence at the various Senate committees.

“There is no shut out of the press from what we do,” Lawan told reporters.

“We need the press to tell Nigerians what we are doing. You (journalists) are our friends. That was a misunderstanding (of what happened),” Lawan said.

The Senate President said it should be expected that journalists, at some point, may be excused from such meetings when sensitive issues that bother on national security are being discussed.

“I want to assure Nigerians that whatever we do in this Senate and indeed in this National Assembly is in the best interest of Nigeria. We will not compromise on anything as far as the national interest is concerned,” Lawan said.

White House Condemns Video Of Trump Attacking Media

 

The White House on Monday condemned a video depicting a fake President Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media figures and political opponents that was shown at a conference for his supporters.

In the internet meme — taken from a scene in the 2014 spy comedy “Kingsman: The Secret Service” — the president’s head is superimposed on a man opening fire on people whose faces have been replaced with the logos of media outlets including CNN, The Washington Post and NBC TV.

“The @POTUS @realDonaldTrump has not yet seen the video, he will see it shortly, but based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a tweet.

During the rampage inside the “Church of Fake News,” the Trump character strikes the late senator John McCain on the back of the neck and torches the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential rival.

He throws Republican senator Mitt Romney to the ground and strikes former president Barack Obama in the back and slams him against a wall.

The organizer of last week’s three-day “American Priority” event — which was held at the president’s Trump National Doral Miami resort — said the clip was part of a “meme exhibit.”

The New York Times reported that the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his former spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis were among the scheduled speakers.

“American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech,” Alex Phillips told The New York Times.

 ‘Endorsement of violence’ 

CNN wrote on Twitter: “This is not the first time that supporters of the President have promoted violence against the media in a video they apparently find entertaining, but it is by far and away the worst.”

The network called on the White House to denounce the clip, saying “anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence.”

The White House Correspondents’ Association also called on Trump to denounce the meme.

“At a conference of Trump supporters, they played a video of our president murdering journalists in a church,” tweeted Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke.

The former Texas congressman noted that Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc was jailed last year to CNN and prominent Democrats, while only two days ago a shooter opened fire on a wedding in a small town church in New Hampshire.

“This video isn’t funny. It will get people killed,” he said.

Media organizations have come under regular verbal attack from Trump and his supporters.

At rallies, the US president repeatedly encourages the crowd to boo and heckle journalists covering the event, calling them “fake news” and “enemy of the people.”

Trump has previously tweeted a roughly edited video clip of him attacking a wrestler whose head had been superimposed with a CNN logo.

AFP

Kogi Election: INEC Seeks Media Support Against Fake News

We Won’t Argue Sub Judice Petitions, INEC Tells PDP

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the public to shun fake news ahead of the governorship election in Kogi State.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter’s Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, made the appeal on Wednesday at the commission’s office in Lokoja, the state capital.

He also urged journalists to work within the rules of the profession to ensure the successful conduct of the November 16 poll.

According to Okoye, hate speech and fake news are becoming very divisive forces in the society.

He, therefore, appealed to journalists to do all necessary checks in order not to incite violence during the election.

READ ALSO: Ochanya: Benue Arraigns Senior Lecturer Over Rape, Death Of Teenager

The national commissioner asked the media to sustain its indispensable status in the task of nation-building and never be allowed to be used as a platform for promoting hate speeches.

He disclosed that about 16,139 electoral officials would be recruited by the commission and listed the political parties that would participate in the election.

The INEC official told political parties who felt INEC should have advised them on how to fill some of the forms that the commission was a regulatory agency and not an advisory body.

He spoke during a workshop on legal and procedural issues, aimed at creating awareness on the use of basic concepts and terminologies in the electoral process.

On his part, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, asked journalists to be objective in their reportage during the election.

The Kogi Residence Electoral Commissioner (REC), Professor James Apam, also sought the cooperation of the media for the election.

He described journalists as gatekeepers of the exercise, adding that they should be able to report without bias.

Training Journalists In The Era Of Fake News

 

 

As uncannily realistic “deep fake” videos proliferate online, including one recently retweeted by Donald Trump, journalism schools are scrambling to adapt to an era of misinformation — or fake news.

Experts discussed how to train tomorrow’s reporters for these new challenges at the World Journalism Education Congress in Paris last week.

The three-day event — “Teaching Journalism During a Disruptive Age” — was attended by 600 educators and researchers from 70 countries.

“We have journalism educators from places as different as Bangladesh and Uganda, but essentially we all face the same challenges,” congress organiser Pascal Guenee, head of IPJ Dauphine journalism school in Paris, told AFP.

In China, the government makes no secret of its tight grip on the media.

But fake news is seeping into traditional media via Weibo, WeChat and other Chinese-language social media platforms, said journalism professor Peiqin Chen of the Shanghai International Studies University.

“When someone posts false information on Weibo, it can be reposted by a mainstream newspaper’s Weibo account,” she said. “Other mainstream media pick up on it from there.”

“Mainstream media play the biggest role in confirming and spreading fake news in China,” she added.

For politics or profit

It was US President Donald Trump who first popularised the phrase “fake news” in attacks on the news media.

But in May, Trump tweeted a video of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi which appeared to have been edited to focus on sections of a speech in which she stuttered and mispronounced certain words.

“Pelosi stammers through news conference,” he wrote.

Another doctored Pelosi video, which went viral online, slowed down her speech to give the impression she was drunk.

The motivation behind fake news is not always political, said Gifty Appiah-Adjei from the University of Education in Ghana.

“Often it is for financial gain by creating internet traffic, or it’s entertainment,” she told AFP. “And some people write fake stories just for fun.”

Journalism education “is the most effective means by which fake news can be addressed”, she argued.

Until recently, however, how to detect and counter fake news has rarely been taught as a stand-alone course at journalism schools, she said.

Checking sources has “always been part of the curriculum,” said Kamilla Nigmatullina, senior lecturer at Russia’s Saint Petersburg State University.

But today’s ever-more sophisticated misinformation — including doctored videos and photos — requires a fresh approach.

“Journalism schools in China give some courses in fact-checking, but the academic material we study is based on research in other countries,” said Chen.

“China still has a long way to go.”

But for Nigmatullina, we do not need to develop a whole new discipline.

Technology not the answer

“What we do need is joint research with scholars from different disciplines,” she told AFP.

“We could work with neuroscience students, for example, to determine why people decide to share certain information.”

In one project organised by the European Journalism Training Association (EJTA), students from almost 20 journalism schools in 13 countries participated in the fact-checking of articles in the run-up to the European Union elections.

One of the aims, said project manager Nadia Vissers from the Artesis Plantijn University in Belgium, was to learn the difference between “misinformation” and “disinformation”.

“Misinformation is false information spread without the intention to cause harm,” she explained. “Disinformation has the intention of spreading lies and influencing people.”

Misleading information in the media, for example, about migration, climate change and Brexit was classified as “mostly true”, “mostly false”, “false” or “uncheckable”.

The project runs on a shoe-string budget, said Vissers, because “we don’t want any funding from Facebook or Google”.

“The goal is to train journalists,” said Eric Nahon, deputy head of IPJ Dauphine and chair of the panel discussion.

“Technological solutions are not the answer — we need educated journalists.”

AFP

How Conspiracy Theories Followed Man To The Moon

This NASA photo obtained July 3, 2019 shows a fully functional Launch Abort System (LAS) with a test version of Orion attached,as it soars upward on NASA’s Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) flight test atop a Northrop Grumman provided booster on July 2, 2019, after launching at 7 am EDT, from Launch Pad 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. TONY GRAY, KEVIN O’CONNELL / NASA / AFP

 

It was the biggest piece of supposed fake news before the term “fake news” was even invented.

Millions of people across the world still believe that no one has ever walked on the Moon, and that the images that NASA broadcast in July 1969 were shot in a Hollywood studio.

Thousands of Internet sites are devoted to “proving” that the landing never happened, or calling into question the whole Apollo 11 mission.

Some claim that NASA did not have the technological know-how to pull off such a coup, or that if it did that it wasn’t done with a human crew — who would surely have been fried alive by cosmic rays.

Others tout possible alien involvement, which of course has been covered up — as has the lunar civilisation the astronauts discovered…

But almost all the conspiracy theories focus on supposed anomalies in the grainy photos and videos which NASA sent back to Earth.

Shadows in the footage show they were suspect, as is the absence of stars in the sky in some images — theories which have long since been refuted by scientists.

Yet theories live on regardless of proof from the Lunar Orbiter in 2009 which showed the abandoned modules from Apollo 11, 14, 15, 16 and 17 still on the Moon’s surface.

Six in 10 Russians sceptical

When Apollo 11’s lunar module touched down on the Sea of Tranquility in 1969, less than one in 20 Americans doubted what they were seeing on their television screens.

By the turn of the century a Gallup poll found scepticism has only spread to six percent of the population.

In contrast, more than half of Russians — the old Cold War enemy — still refuse to believe that the Americans got there first.

But surprisingly serious doubt is also rampant among some of Washington’s closest allies, with a 2009 TNS survey showing a quarter of British people did not believe the landings happened, while nine percent of French people were also unconvinced, according to pollsters Ifop.

Academic Didier Desormeaux, who has written widely on conspiracy theories, said the more important an event the more likely it is to attract outrageous counter-narratives.

“Conquering space was a major event for humanity. Undermining that can shake the very foundations of science and man’s mastery of nature,” he told AFP, making it a huge target for conspiracists.

While earlier conspiracy theories also involved images — such as the assassination of US president John F Kennedy in 1963, and the so-called Roswell UFO incident — “what is new about these rumours is that they are based on a minute deconstruction of the images sent back by NASA,” the French specialist insisted.

‘Images anaesthetise thinking’

For Desormeaux it is the first time a “conspiracy theory was built entirely around the visual interpretation of a media event — which they denounce entirely as a set-up.”

The same logic has been used repeatedly to dismiss school massacres in the US as fake, he added, with hardcore conspiracists claiming that the dead “are played by actors”.

“Images can anaesthetise our capacity to think” when deployed with ever more twisted leaps of logic, Desormeaux warned.

“The power of such theories is that no matter what they survive, because they become a belief which comes with a kind of evangelism and so they can go on forever,” he added.

For NASA’s former official historian Roger Launius, “the fact that the denials of the Moon landings would not go away should not surprise anyone.”

Launius — who has devoted a large part of his career to fighting them — said in his latest book, “Apollo’s Legacy”, that deniers “do not accept the same rules of investigation and knowledge that all others live by.

“They have tapped into a rich vein of distrust of government, populists critiques of society and questions about the fundamentals of (scientific method) and knowledge creation,” he added.

For decades they have played on “our deepest and most secret fears”, fed by America’s defeat in the Vietnam war at home and by anti-Americanism abroad, he said.

But Launius also blames the media for adding fuel to flames of paranoia.

“Moon landings denials were fanned by… competition for a new and different perspective on the events,” he said.

AFP