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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
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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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Facebook Rolls Out New Tool that Lets Journalists Examine Political Ads

It also shows demographics of people reached, including age, gender and location

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New Facebook tool lets journalists scrutinise political ads. Pixabay

With midterm elections in the US and general elections in several other countries knocking at the door, Facebook has rolled out a new tool that makes it easier for researchers and journalists to scrutinise Facebook ads related to politics or issues of national importance.

“We’re making advertising more transparent to help prevent abuse on Facebook, especially during elections,” Rob Leathern, Facebook’s Director of Product Management said in a statement on Wednesday.

Facebook said its new tool, Ad Archive API, would initially be available to a group of publishers, academics and researchers in the US before opening it up more broadly.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“Input from this group will also form the basis of an Archive report that will be available starting in September,” Leathern said.

The API offers ad creative, start and end date, and performance data, including total spend and impressions for ads.

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It also shows demographics of people reached, including age, gender and location.

“We’re greatly encouraged by trends and insights that watchdog groups, publishers and academics have unearthed since the archive launched in May. We believe this deeper analysis will increase accountability for both Facebook and advertisers,” Leathern said. (IANS)