Fears for freedom of the media move closer to home
Photo: Society of Editors
Restrictions on the media were once something seen as a problem for other countries but now these concerns are front and centre in the UK, Index CEO Jodie Ginsberg told the Society of Editors’ conference this week. After chairing a panel on press freedom, which discussed self-censorship, online trolling and possible legislation, she said: “For me it was good to hear that people are thinking critically about the upcoming Online Harms plans and its implications for free speech and it was sobering to hear Martin Breen [the editor of Sunday Life, in Belfast] talk about some of his staff in Northern Ireland needing security measures like bullet proof glass.”
Around the world, the rich and powerful are using Slapp lawsuits to silence their critics. Slapps – Strategic Litigations Against Public Participation – are cases that the plaintiffs know they have little chance of winning, but which they also know can end in financial ruin for the journalists and media outlets they target. Last year, Index published guidelines on how to tackle these lawsuits and Index’s advocacy director, Joy Hyvarinen, was in Brussels this week as part of an Anti-Slapp expert meeting at the European Parliament, organised by our partner organisation, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom. The meeting, co-sponsored by Index, was attended by journalists, lawyers and MEPs.
Index condemns Turkish journalist’s re-arrest
Index has condemned the re-arrest of Turkish journalist Ahmet Altan, who was released from prison last week after three years of pre-trial detention. Altan, who has written for Index, was arrested at his home. Earlier this year he spoke to Index from his prison cell about how knowing he had support kept him going.
Ginsberg on hate speech laws
In an era of hate, how do we protect free speech? This was the topic under discussion at the University of Essex’s THINK! Debate series this week. In a lively and thoughtful debate, Index CEO Jodie Ginsberg explored the importance of free speech in democratic societies and why hate speech laws were actually a poor solution for dealing with hate. She said afterwards: “Students wanted to discuss how we could protect minorities if we allowed hate speech to take place, whether we should be concerned about a rise in the use of sedition laws and whether safe spaces were compatible with free speech.”
Free Speech is for Me mentors are chosen
Index is pleased to announce some of the mentors for its new Free Speech is for Me project. They include Chinese author Xinran, pictured, former Independent executive editor Will Gore and Kenan Malik. Through training and mentoring, FSIFM is equipping people from all backgrounds and beliefs to speak out against censorship. The mentors will work with 12 new advocates, who are from the UK and the USA, to help them defend and champion the issue of free speech.
Index on Censorship defends people’s freedom to express themselves without fear of harm or persecution. We publish censored writers and artists, monitor and campaign against censorship, and encourage debate.
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