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54 Journalists attacked in India in the span of 16 months by “lawmakers and law enforcers”, says Report

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An Indian man reads a newspaper in front of a newsstand in New Delhi, India, March 15, 2016. VOA

New Delhi, May 3, 2017: As many as 54 attacks on journalists were reported in 16 months, mainly by “lawmakers and law enforcers”, a report compiled by media watchdog Hoot said on Tuesday, a day ahead of the World Press Freedom Day.

The report said the actual figure could be much higher as a minister told Parliament that “142 attacks on journalists took place between 2014-15”.

“The stories behind each of these attacks reveal a clear and persistent pattern. Investigative reporting is becoming increasingly dangerous. Journalists who venture out into the field to investigate any story, be it sand mining, stone quarrying, illegal construction, police brutality, medical negligence, eviction drive, election campaigns, or civic administration corruption are under attack,” it said.

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The attacks were committed by political parties and their leaders (8), police (9), and mobs resisting media coverage (9).

Apart from attacks, the report took into account invocation of sedition law, suspension of Internet services in a region, self-censorship on part of media companies, censoring of films and other arts, among other instances which may frustrate free functioning of the media.

The shutdown of the printing presses of two Kashmir newspapers after the killing of militant Burhan Wani, and the ban on Kashmir Reader for three months during the same period, were cited in the report as instances of media censorship.

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Other such instances included a one-day ban on NDTV news channel for its coverage of the Pathankot attack last January, which “… supposed to have revealed strategic information about the operation”.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry however put the ban on hold after the channel approached the Supreme Court.

The sedition law was also used unsparingly and “went viral”, as the report said.

“A large number of cases were filed — 18 between January and June last year. By the end of the year, the figure was 40,” it said.

The media watchdog cited examples of killings of Right to Information (RTI) activists, and appointment of ‘bureaucrats’ as Chief Information Commissioners instead of “persons of eminence in public life”, as the concerned Act says.

“Currently, 91.6 per cent of Chief Information Commissioners in states are retired bureaucrats, as are 93 per cent of Central Information Commissioners,” the report said.

Jammu and Kashmir suffered the longest and bans on Internet services the most — 13 times in 16 months, with Haryana coming second with Internet suspension nine times in as many months. (IANS)

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Google Announces to Train Indian Journalists For Fair Election Coverage

For 2019, Google plans to train another 10,000 journalists in India under this programme

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The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

As India elections inch closer, Google on Thursday announced to train journalists in online verification and fact-checking, digital safety and security, YouTube for elections coverage and data visualization for elections.

Google News Initiative, in partnership with independent, third-party organisations DataLeads and Internews would host training sessions in 30 cities between February 26 and April 6 in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Bangla, Kannada, Gujarati, Odia, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi, the company said in a statement.

“The Google News Initiative is proud to be supporting journalists in India as they prepare to cover the upcoming elections. Since 2016, Google has trained more than 13,000 journalists in India, across over 200 newsrooms and in 40 cities,” said Irene Jay Liu, Google News Lab Lead, Asia-Pacific.

Working journalists and freelancers covering elections can apply for the free training workshops.

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A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company’s offices in Toronto. VOA

Google would organise the training session in the Delhi-NCR region on February 26.

Google launched the “Google News Initiative India Training Network” last year, focused on online verification and fact-checking.

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In six months, the Network onboarded 241 trainers in seven languages, who have so far trained 5,260 journalists across over 40 cities in India.

For 2019, Google plans to train another 10,000 journalists in India under this programme. (IANS)