Monday, November 28, 2011

Israel apologizes for sorry treatment of NYT photographer

Israel's Defense Ministry apologized Monday for the treatment of a pregnant American news photographer who was repeatedly strip searched and humiliated by Israeli soldiers during a security check, the Associated Press reports. (Olive -skinned Lynsey does look vaguely Palestinian, one colleague noted. But this incident shows how few rights can be counted on, especially when tight security is in place at borders.) The rather tepid apology for this so-called "mishap" took more than a month.

Lynsey Addario, who was on assignment for the New York Times, had requested that she not be forced to go through an X-ray machine as she entered Israel from the Gaza Strip because of concerns for her unborn baby.

Instead, she wrote in a letter to the ministry, she was forced through the machine three times as soldiers "watched and laughed from above." She said she was then taken into a room where she was ordered by a female worker to strip down to her underwear.

In the Oct. 25 letter sent by the newspaper said Addario, a Pulitzer Prize winner who is based in India and has worked in more than 60 countries, had never been treated with "such blatant cruelty."

The ministry said an investigation found that the search followed procedures but noted that Addario's request to avoid the X-ray machine had not been properly relayed.

Addario said she made the request not to go through the X-ray machine before arriving at the crossing.

"We would like to apologize for this particular mishap in coordination and any trouble it may subsequently have caused to those involved," the statement said.

It said that security is tight on the border with Gaza "in order to prevent terror from targeting and reaching Israel's citizens."

The defense ministry has "decided to hone the procedure for foreign journalists," it said.

The New York Times bureau chief in Israel, Ethan Bronner, welcomed the planned changes but said the newspaper remains shocked at the treatment Addario received and how long the investigation took.

Foreign journalists working in Israel have repeatedly complained of overly intrusive security checks by of Israeli authorities. Israel says the inspections are necessary measures.

In March, Addario was among four reporters captured in Libya by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and held for six days. Another of the four, reporter Anthony Shadid, related later that they were bound with wire, blindfolded, hit with fists and rifle butts and threatened with death. Addario also was groped, he said.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chelsea Clinton to report for NBC Network News

As first families get accustomed to the spotlight, the offspring of presidents and candidates become attractive hires for television, with instant name recognition.  The latest to join Jenna Bush as a tv reporter at NBC is Chelsea Clinton, 31, a composed campaign trail speaker who presumably has discovered that professional life at McKinsey, a financial management firm,  is rather cut throat and alientating from the other 99 per cent of the population. Today, the New York Times reports that the only child of Bill and Hillary will henceforth be a full-fledged, full-time correspondent for NBC News. (Shades of Maria Shriver, erstwhile First Lady of California?)

Chelsea's new beat will be the "Making a Difference" profiles of community volunteer workers.  Well, the Clinton contact book of family friends is unmatched.  Hmmm. The jury is out until we see how the public handles her first "hot mike" incident. Few former hedge fund employees move on to the media.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Has Poynter's New Romenesko-ish blog, MediaWire, Just Imploded? The Spin's Still Coming In

This is a fractured fairy tale about an aggravated aggregator. His hastened departure at Poynter Institute has touched off a brouhaha of tweets and cybersnark this week. The veteran blogger Jim Romenesko has resigned a full seven weeks before his scheduled "semi-retirement" into reporting mode, and it looks as if he's intent on taking all his advertisers, along with some 38,000 regular followers, with him to his new stand-alone blog, JimRomenesko.Com.

It's all about the clicks, folks. And the Missing Links.

Some disgusted hacks say they won't ever click again on a Poynter link. The respected  Jim Romenesko quit under the shadow of a public rebuke from his boss Julie Moos, who evidently "had a cow" when the Columbia Journalism Review's Erika Fry  emailed her about some attribution concerns.  To pre-empt an interview and forestall an embarrassing expose about frequent under-attribution and over-aggregation on the Poynter Institute's most venerable blog, Moos rushed to post an article that repriminded JR about how his missing quote marks might imply the use of lifted quotes.  This taint of plagiarism smeared the uber-blogger and unleashed an angst storm in cybermedia circles.  It read like the revenge of the nerds.  The piece was then followed up by the personal take from all the Poynter head honchos at the St Petersburg, Florida institute on Journalism ethics.  Meanwhile, the abruptly abandoned blog, which had been running as Romenesko+, has transmogrified further.  The new moniker, MediaWire, sounds rather retro and, um, mediocre.
Kicker, the CJR blog for journos, has been weighing in, as has the NYT's Media Decoder (Behind the Scenes, Between the Lines).  They proclaim: "Romenesko's Posts Now Toast."  The conclusion? Despite all appearances, Ms Moos article was "not a paradoy of church-lady journo etiquette."  Self-aggrandizing and self-promoting hacks are not well served in such circles, commenters reminded the blogger, David Carr.  Let's watch this space.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cartoonist Arrested at Occupy Oakland Raid

Susie Cagle, a spunky young graphic artist who has been covering the Occupy Oakland protests since the beginning, has been released from jail after her arrest.  She was charged with a misdemeanor for being present at a demo, even though her press accreditation was in order.  Colleagues are encouraging her to take the Blue Meanies of the Oakland police to court for prohibiting her from doing her job as a member of the press, protected by the First Amendment. 

Click here to see a clip of her, courtesy of the Crooks and Liars website.
Her dad, cartoonist Daryl Cagle, has been following her plight.

UPDATE #3: Susie has been released from Santa Rita, but she has been charged with misdemeanor “present at raid.” According to Susie, she had her press pass in full view when she was arrested, and one of the Oakland Police Department officers even recognized her and knew her comics.
UPDATE #2: Susie has been “signed out” of Santa Rita, but it’s still an indefinite amount of time before she is released.

Susie is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, California, charged with unlawful assembly, even though she was there covering the event and had a press badge. Obviously, they took her phone when she was arrested, but you can follow updates on her Twitter feed, @Susie_C. It’s being updated by her friend Joel Kraut (@myunderpants).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Court to Rule on Julian Assange Extradition Today

The founder of WikiLeaks faces extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations. Julian Assange , who wears an electronic monitoring device on his ankle while in Britain, maintains that these accusations are politically motivated. The Press Association reports:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will hear on Wednesday if he has won or lost his high court bid to block extradition to Sweden where he faces sex crime allegations.
His lawyers asked two judges to rule that extraditing the 40-year-old Australian would be "unfair and unlawful".
The Swedish authorities want Assange to answer accusations of raping one woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August last year.
Assange, whose WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, denies the allegations and says they are politically motivated.
The high court in London is having to decide whether to uphold or overturn a ruling in February by District Judge Howard Riddle at Belmarsh magistrates' court in south London that the computer expert should be extradited to face investigation.
Judgment will be handed down by President of the Queen's Bench Division Sir John Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Ouseley.
The Assange legal challenge, which has attracted worldwide attention, centers on a European arrest warrant (EAW) issued by a Swedish prosecutor, which led to Assange's arrest.
His QC, Ben Emmerson, argued at a two-day hearing in July that the prosecutor was not a "judicial authority" entitled to issue the EAW.
The warrant had also contained "fundamental misstatements" of what had occurred in Stockholm last August while Assange was in Sweden to give a lecture, said the QC.

This extradition case is not  linked to the Australian's notorious work as editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, which has so upset U.S. authorities. Assange's organization, which enables the anonymous uploading of secret information onto its website, has published around a quarter million confidential U.S. diplomatic cables in the past year, embarrassing to the government and possibly putting some named informants in potential danger. If the court rules in his favor, he will walk free.

UPDATE:  The British judges have ruled against Assange, but he has two weeks to appeal his case to the highest court, according to the Associated Press. It is increasingly likely that Sweden will be his next destination.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Female Soldier Jailed for Leaking IDF Assassination Policy

Israel is punishing its kosher version of Bradley Manning, the fomer IDF conscript and online reporter Anat Kam, who was just sentenced to four and a half years behind bars, despite her lengthy secret house arrest.  But the journalist who reported on her leaked documents about the IDF's hit list, Uri Blau of Haaretz, is presently holed up in Britain -- in an odd echo of Wikileaks' Julian Assange.  He's not as defiant, though. In a plea bargain, Blau has returned all confidential documents to the Israelis.

So, what is the price of speaking truth to power inside Israel? The Independent of London's Catrina Stewart reports on this crime, its punishment, and the Israeli gag order:

Israel has sentenced a former soldier to four and a half years in prison for leaking classified documents to a journalist who used them to expose an alleged army policy to assassinate wanted Palestinian militants in violation of court rulings.
Anat Kam, 24, was convicted in February for copying 2,085 military documents on to a disc as she completed her mandatory army service and passing some of them to Uri Blau, an investigative reporter with the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper.
She escaped the much more serious charges of harming state security after reaching a plea bargain.
 Her case provoked a domestic uproar - in part because she was held for four months under secret house arrest with the Israeli media banned from reporting on it, but also because it was viewed as an assault on the freedom of the press. The Independent was the first newspaper to report on Ms Kam's arrest.
In passing sentence yesterday, the three-judge panel elected to send a clear message to other would-be whistleblowers. "If the army cannot trust the soldiers serving in various units and exposed to sensitive issues, then it cannot function as a regular army," the judges wrote. They said that Ms Kam's motive for taking the documents was "mainly ideological". Ms Kam has already served nearly two years of house arrest, which will not count towards her prison term, and she received a further 18-month suspended sentence.
As a clerk in the Israeli Defence Forces' central command, Ms Kam stumbled across documents that appeared to point to the premeditated killing of Palestinian militants in the West Bank, despite a Supreme Court ruling that severely restricted such operations, determining that the army should arrest suspects if possible.

 The photo of Anat Kam, above, comes courtesy of SabbahReport, where reporter Gila Svirsky has probed into the scandal of the Shin Bet hit list, the gagging of the gag order, and the perils of whistle blowing.

Crossposted on Israelity Bites