First Draft of History: How a Free Press Protects Freedom

– Good evening everybody, and welcome. Welcome to our first class
session of the course Journalism Under Siege. I am Charlie Junkerman, and I’ll be your continuing
studies host tonight, do a little bit of introduction and some housekeeping
before we get underway. Housekeeping first. I don’t wanna use up any
more of the precious time of our class session tonight,
so I’ll make this quick. If you have questions
about attendance, credit, that sort of thing,
class-related questions, you can ask me after class. I’ll be around. And also, tomorrow, Amy
Tollafield from our staff is going to be sending around an email with those sorts of issues. So stand by for the email. Dawn Garcia and Michael
Bolton, who are the hosts for the entire sequence
of our class sessions will explain when they get up on stage how the course is going to go, how it’s structured. So I’m not going to
pretend to do that now, but you’ll get it as soon as Dawn comes up and does her introduction
of the core of the course. You may notice, although it’s unobtrusive, that we’re videotaping this course, as a Stanford video is in the back. We’ll videotape all five sessions and they’ll be uploaded to YouTube after the course is finished. Now, one of the
consequences of videotaping is that we can’t have you ask questions in your own voice without getting a waiver from each one of you who stands up to ask a question, which is impossible. So instead, what we’re
going to do is that staff from the Knight
Fellowship’s program will be circulating through the audience, yes, during the class session
with three by five cards and passing them down the rows. So if a question occurs to
you, you can write one out and it will get up to
stage to the speakers. Okay? Sorry for that clunkiness, but it’s what we have to deal with
once we start videoing. There will be a 10 minute break after the first hour, so at 8:00
there will be a break. Men’s rooms are on this
side, women’s on that side. And we ask you to try to make your stretch and what you need to do
quick so that you can come back and we can get
underway again at 8:10. Finally, I’d like to say
some thanks to our team, Continuing Studies, who’s
been working very hard to pull this course together. As Dawn will inevitably
tell you, there are 28 guest speakers over the next five weeks. I don’t think we’ve ever
had a course that’s been this rich, this dense, this full, and our staff has been working hard. So sincere thanks to Jack
Kirkner, Alex Argyropoulos, Amy Tollafield, Liz Frith, Emma Walker, Hana Hsu, Holly Odorfer,
and Kylie O’Meara. They’re a great team. All right. That’s housekeeping. Now, here is a very brief introduction. So, welcome to our featured
team taught course this fall, Journalism Under Siege: Truth and Trust in a Time of Turmoil. The genesis of this course
is probably not hard for you to imagine. I think we are all aware,
in fact alarmingly aware, that around the world,
journalism and press freedom are facing their biggest
challenges in decades. Journalists here at home are being accused of being enemies of the people
and of reporting fake news. In countries around the world,
they are being imprisoned by the thousands and even killed. Given these stark realities,
and being convinced of the absolute necessity
of a free and honest press to the survival of democracy,
Continuing Studies, in collaboration with the
John S. Knight Fellowship program at Stanford, felt
that it was our civic duty to convene a forum such as this one where concerned citizens,
such as yourselves, can learn from professional
journalists and engage in conversations that will help all of us understand the challenges
that face journalism today. I’m pleased to welcome you
tonight and to introduce Dawn Garcia and Michael Bolton, the directors of the course. Dawn Garcia is not just
the director of the course, she’s the director of the John S. Knight Fellowship program at Stanford. JSK, as it’s familiarly known,
began at Stanford in 1966 and has evolved over the
years into one of the most prestigious fellowship
programs for professional journalists in the world. Every year, JSK brings between 15 and 20 practicing journalists to Stanford, giving them the freedom to take courses, use our libraries, engage with colleagues at research institutes,
and charge their batteries to go back out and write engaged
and compelling journalism. In our course this
quarter, we will hear from seven current JSK fellows,
two of them tonight. Dawn began her career
as a reporter and editor for the West Coast
Newspapers, which includes the San Jose Mercury and
the San Francisco Chronicle, where she wrote about
politics, immigration, and legal affairs. She’s the past president
of the organization Journalism and Women Symposium, a national non-profit
organization that supports the professional empowerment
and personal growth of women in journalism. She’s served on non-profit
boards championing first amendment rights, social justice, and quality journalism
training and education. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon,
and a Master of Liberal Arts degree from Stanford. She’s taught journalism
at Bay Area universities and is currently a lecturer in Stanford’s journalism program. She, herself, was a 1991-92 JSK fellow, where she studied U.S Mexico relations. Her co-director for the
course, Michael Bolden, is Managing Director for Communications for the JSK Fellowship program. Before that, he served for four years in the Knight Foundation and that was after a 13 year stint on the Washington Post where he led the Development
and Transportation reporting team, and worked as an editor for the Washington Post Magazine, Style, and Sunday Arts. He’s also worked for the Miami Herald, the Northwest Florida Daily News, and the Times-Picayune from New Orleans. Michael was a fellow in
the Maynard Media Academy’s Entrepreneurial Leadership
program at Harvard and earned his B.A. from
the University of Alabama. He’s a long-time member of
the National Association of Black Journalists,
the National Association of Hispanic Journalists,
the National Press Club, NLGJA, the Association
of LGBTQ Journalists, and the Society of
Professional Journalists. So without further ado, please join me in, actually it’s just Dawn
who’s going to be responsible for the first half, so you can welcome Michael at 8:10, but please join me in welcoming Dawn Garcia. (clapping) – So welcome, good evening. I’m Dawn Garcia, the Director
of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship’s
program, and I’m really happy to be here with all of you tonight. As Charlie mentioned, around the world, journalism and press
freedom issues are facing the biggest challenges
in many, many decades. Traditional business models for media are in decline. Journalists are being accused of reporting what’s called fake news. And even more serious,
some journalists are being imprisoned, and others
are even being killed. So we have many questions that we’re going to talk about in this
series here at Stanford. How are journalists and their institutions responding to the perils
that they’re facing? What effect are these problems having on the profession and on
the quality of journalism and the information that
the public receives? And what does it mean for democracy? Tonight is the first of five evenings that we will spend together in this continuing studies course, which is called Journalism Under Siege: Truth and Trust in a Time of Turmoil. Each of the nights is
gonna be devoted to issues that are an essential part of our program, the John S. Knight Fellowships program and an essential part of journalism. As Charlie mentioned, this
is a new collaboration between the Continuing Studies program and the John S. Knight
Journalism Fellowship, so I really want to
thank Charlie Junkerman for working with us, and
his talented, talented staff for teaming up to make
this program possible. I also wanna thank our JSK staff. We have Erika Bartholomew
who’s waving there, and Enrico Benjamin
here tonight helping us, and they will also be collecting
cards for your questions. Final shout-out to Michael
Bolden who you’ll see. He’ll be the host for the
second part of this evening. He’s our Managing Director
for Communications, and he’s leading the
speaker series with me. The second part, Michael will be leading a conversation of reporters and editors around the world who face
threats to journalism on the front lines of journalism. Charlie mentioned our
program, which we have 17 outstanding fellows here this year spending 10 months with us at Stanford. They come here with their families from a number of places, and many
of them are here tonight. They’re from Akron, Ohio,
they’re from Oakland, California, New York City, as well as Buenos Aires, and Belgium, and Botswana. Many of them are here,
a few of them will be up on stage the second
part of our evening. And they will be featured
in other evenings during our course. So the JSK Fellowship’s
program, which started more than 50 years ago here at Stanford,
was a sabbatical model for journalists to come and take a break. But journalism is not in the state where journalists can take a break anymore. So the pace of disruptions
have inspired us, and the technological
change in Silicon Valley and around the world, to evolve
the program considerably. So these days, fellows do take classes, but they also collaborate with each other, and with experts in Silicon
Valley, and Stanford to find new ways to
reinvent, and reimagine, and transform journalism. For this course, we
invited and lined up almost 30 speakers, press experts,
journalists, media critics from around the country
to engage in lively conversation with you and us, and to have enlightening lectures for you. And we really enjoyed
putting this course together. Couple things I wanted to mention. The experts are gonna be
talking about a range of issues. A number of the questions
that Charlie mentioned, a couple of them I’ll just say tonight. What’s the state of press
freedom in the United States and abroad? What’s happening to the traditional role that journalism has played in a democracy? As technological change
accelerates, what’s the impact on government and platforms
like Facebook and Google, and how the information
then flows to all of us in the public? In a time when facts are
being called into question, how do we combat the wave
of growing misinformation and disinformation? How should journalists
cover the growing wave of bias, intolerance, and hate
spreading around the globe? And why is there an accelerated
decline in the number and strength of local news organizations around the country, including right here in the Bay Area? What does that mean for local communities, and will local news
start-ups fill that void? So those are some of the
questions we’re gonna be talking about over
the course of this class. A couple of housekeeping notes. This is a, about more than
250 of you have signed-up. We’re thrilled to have you here. We appreciate very much
your interest in journalism. There will be time for some questions. If you have a question, just pass a card to the end of the aisle,
and Erika or Enrico will pick it up for you. We will try to reserve
about 10 minutes at the end for a few questions at
the end of each half of the course. The full syllabus for
this course is on Canvas, and along with biographical information of the two speakers sitting next to me and the rest of the
speakers for this series. There are articles, books, reports, website links for you to learn more. But none of this is required reading. No quizzes. (chuckling) We just hope the material will enlarge your understanding of
journalism and give you more information about
what’s happening today. Each class will be divided into two. Tonight they’re gonna be roughly equal. We’ll have a break, as
Charlie mentioned, at 8:00. And then we could run a
little over, heads up, because we’d like to
get to your questions. So now we’re going to begin. I’m excited to start. Tonight’s class is First Draft of History: How a Free Press Protects Freedom. We are looking at how do
journalists do their jobs in the face of danger. What happens when they
are either imprisoned, sadly killed, or silenced in some way? So the two people we
have for this discussion are Brian Carovillano,
who’s the Managing Editor of the Associated Press, to my right. He’s the number two
executive in the newsroom of the global organization
the Associated Press. He is responsible for
the AP’s news gathering efforts around the world
and in all media formats. And that sounds like not a small job. (chuckling) Previously, he was the
AP’s Managing Editor for U.S. news and regional editor in Asia. He helped open bureaus in North Korea, Myanmar, and led coverage of Japan’s 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis. He joined the AP in 2000
as a reporter and editor throughout the United States,
including northern California. He told me he really
enjoyed living in Marin. And he was also Regional
Editor for the southern U.S. He’s a graduate of Colby College. Joel Simon, to my left,
is the Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. It’s an independent,
non-profit organization to promote press freedom worldwide. And they defend the right
of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. He’s written on press
freedom issues for many publications including Slate,
the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, and
he’s a regular columnist for the Columbia Journals and Review. Prior to joining CPJ in 1997, as America’s Program Coordinator, he worked for a decade
as a freelance journalist in Latin America, covering
pivotal historical events such as the Guatemalan Civil
War, the Zapatista uprising in southern Mexico,
economic turmoil in Cuba following the collapse
of the Soviet Union. He’s a graduate of Amherst College and Stanford University. He has a number of books, and I will, we may get a chance to
talk about those after. Please join me in welcoming
Brian and Joel to Stanford. (clapping) – Told Joel he could go first. – So we’re gonna start with Joel. And we asked each of
them to give an overview of their areas of expertise
for five minutes or so, five or 10, and then
I’ll have some questions, and then we’ll open up to your questions. – Well, I’m gonna go first,
and thank you so much Dawn, and you left the most important
part out of my resume, which is the work that we
did together at El Tecolote, which is a community,
bilingual community newspaper in San Francisco, where I got my start and where I met Dawn. So it’s wonderful to be
with you and wonderful – It’s great.
– to be back here at Stanford. You know, I’m gonna try
and do a sort of history of press freedom in five minutes, so this is not gonna be easy. But I think that to a certain extent, the history of press
freedom is a history of CPJ. And I should probably start
out by saying something that’s, frankly, I think astounding, which is that if you look at the data, in the last year, so every year CPJ does a census of journalists imprisoned around the world. And last year, there were 262 journalists imprisoned around the world. That’s the highest number
we’ve ever recorded. – [Dawn] Wow. – CPJ has been around
since 1981, and we’ve been documenting this
systematically since 1992. So how is it? Why is it that in this
particular moment in time there are more journalists in prison than at any time in
history, in recent history? And I think you have to,
again, go back to look at the last 30 years to understand how we got to this point. So when CPJ was created
in 1981, we were started by a group of U.S. journalists
to defend the rights of journalists working around the world who worked without the protection
of the first amendment, who confronted repression and violence. And the framework around
the world for repression at that time was the Cold War. So, the two greatest threats to journalism were state censorship that you had in the Soviet Union, and
in China, and in many other parts of the world that
was justified based on an ideology that private media didn’t represent the kind of
perspective of the people, and that the state should
control information and impose censorship on all views that were not directed by the state. And then in Latin
America, of course you had violent conflict in the
context of the Cold War, in which journalists were targeted, and that was a period of massive violence. And then, at the end of the Cold War, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, you had this period really, in the 90s, where there was plenty of
violence against journalists. You had the conflict in Bosnia, you had the conflict in Algeria in which journalists were targeted. But you didn’t have the same
levels of state repression. And in fact, you saw an
explosion of independent journalism around the world. And journalism is a kind
of unique institution because it isn’t an institution. It can sort of thrive in
periods of transition and chaos. And so as these governments were going through these periods of transition, where state power was reduced, you saw a flourishing of
independent journalism and the ability of states to control and manage information was more limited. And then, if you look at our data again, you look at journalists in prison, you see this trough in the 1990s. And then, right around 2000,
let me put it this way, at the end of 2000,
there were 84 journalists in prison around the world. At the end of 2001, there were 112. What happened? You have the onset of the war on terror, and a new framework for repression, which is anti-terror. And so you see, around the world, governments glommed on to this notion that journalism that reports on groups that the government deems
to be terrorist groups is supporting terrorism,
aligned with terrorism, and governments repressed journalism based on this pretext. And that framework for repression
has continued ever since. Then you have, during the same period, you have a global transformation in the information infrastructure
because of technology that also unleashed all
these powerful forces, which also transformed journalism. It had a number of very positive affects, which, of course, we all recognize, and, to a certain extent, benefit from, which is the ability to access information that was once very limited. Now, of course, we can do
that using this technology. But it also sort of ripped apart some of the kind of institutional structures that made journalism powerful. So you saw journalists who were once part of large institutions, now
they were often reporting either independently, or as freelancers, or even on their own
using this technology. And they created this kind
of new global information infrastructure, a sort
of new media ecosystem. And yes, there was a
flourish of information, but the individuals who
were out there reporting that information were uniquely vulnerable. And you also saw governments
and non-governmental forces that once relied
on journalism to get their message out, were
suddenly less dependent on journalism because they had new ways of disseminating information
using this technology. And so you saw an unleashing of violence against journalists and a sudden increase. And you also saw, in violent attacks, and you also saw governments recognizing the threat of independent information and cracking down on the Internet itself. And so that was the next
framework for repression. And now I think we’ve entered a new one. And it’s really, there
are several things that are contributing to this new
framework for repression. Some of them are going
back at least a decade, which is this new kind of leader, these elected autocrats. I sometimes call them democratators. – [Dawn] Democratators. (chuckling) – They’re autocratic, but they’re elected, so you could–
– Yeah. – look at somebody like Vladimir Putin or Hugo Chavez in Venezuela,
or Viktor Orban in Hungary. But there’s also, you’re
also seeing, of course, of populist leaders in
other parts of the world, including in our own country. And one of the things that we’ve seen throughout this entire period is that western democracies have been a buhlwork, of course their own records
haven’t been perfect, and they haven’t done this systematically, but they’ve been a buhlwork
in terms of defending the rights of journalists
and press freedom. Of course, in this administration, that’s no longer the rubric. And one thing that I’m sure
Brian’s gonna talk about, but I just wanna make this last point, which is, there’s a lot of
consternation and concern about the fake news framing
in the United States, and the negative impact
that’s having on journalism, and the increasing
polarization we’re seeing here. But from my vantage point,
it’s actually having an even more deleterious
effect around the world because it’s providing a new
framework for repression. We’re seeing governments around the world glom onto this framework once again, call for new fake news laws,
denounce critical journalism as fake news. And one of the things we’ve
seen, and I think this is a very important data point, in the year since President
Trump has come to power, the number of journalists
jailed around the world, what we have historically
called false news charges, has more than doubled. So it was a relatively small number. It was nine at the end of 2016. It was 21 at the end of 2017. But we’re definitely
entering a new era in which I think the new framework for repression is the de-legitimization of journalism as false news and a legal
framework for represssion that basically parallels
the kind of rhetoric that we’re seeing from
the Trump administration. – [Dawn] Wow. Thank you, Joel. – So that’s kinda the macro view, I guess. – Yeah. – I’m gonna give a little
bit more of the micro view from what things look like
inside the AP headquarters newsroom in New York. As Dawn said, my job is to
try to manage, or to manage, the AP’s global news report. And as you could imagine, that requires, it’s almost a constant barrage these days of safety issues, security
issues, standards decisions, consultations with our legal department. It also causes me to spend a lot of time thinking about and focusing on something I never really thought
would be part of my job a couple of years ago. But we are very focused on, I guess, news literacy, and trying not only to train humans to
understand the difference between real news and fake news, but also to tray algorithms, which is a whole new field that I, have learned far more
about in the past couple of years than I ever expected to. Just to look at today, I mean, AP journalists are covering
hundreds of assignments around the world today. I’m just gonna give you a few examples that I think are relevant. We have a team on the ground on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia
where they’re covering the aftermath of the
devastating earthquake there. Lots of decisions about
safety, and security, and access, and all the things
that we’re focused on here. We have a bureau in Tehran. And they are covering the
fallout from an attack by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on militant groups inside Syria. We have journalists who
have been out covering major protests in the last few days by Catalan separatists in Spain. And even as we speak, I
think it’s still going on, we’re at a Trump rally in
Southaven, Mississippi. And I mention that in part because I think a few years ago it would
have seemed very incongruous to mention a U.S. example on
a list of things like that. But I think we are all well
aware of how the climate toward journalists and
journalism have changed in this country, and the
challenges that that presents. It’s definitely a thing
that some of the same precautions and concerns that journalists overseas have long faced
are now being talked about and have become concerns
in U.S. news rooms. So we can talk a little
bit more about that later. But working for the AP in particular, it’s very hard to not be very aware of and concerned about the
safety of journalists and about journalism access. We are a non-partisan news organization that takes position on
nothing other than issues of press freedom and access,
and journalist safety. This is the one thing for which we feel it is right for us to be
advocates, and activists even. And on nothing else. If you ever come to
visit the AP headquarters in lower Manhattan, and
you walk into our newsroom, and anyone is welcome to do
so anytime you’re in New York, one of the first things
that you see is what we call the Wall of Honor. And the Wall of Honor is
a memorial that contains the names of 35 AP
journalists who have been killed while reporting the news. And the oldest of these
was from 1876 when a guy named Mark Kellogg was killed beside General Custer covering the
Battle of Little Bighorn. (chuckling) The most recent ones are from 2014, which was actually an especially bad year. The AP lost four journalists in 2014, and several others who
were seriously wounded. And if you look at that
wall, and I think this is generally true around the world, visual journalists are
disproportionately represented. Because you have to be
there, with your camera, to document a disaster,
a conflict, or a protest. And as a reporter, it’s
always better to lay eyes on the things that you’re writing about. There’s no question about that. But it is possible to
do that without running into live fire. It’s not really possible
for visual journalists to do that, and so, if
you look at that wall, or if you look at the
rosters of journalists who’ve been killed over the years, photographers and video journalists are represented there in
disproportionate numbers. In 2015, our CEO, Gary
Pruitt, publicly called for the killing or
hostage-taking of journalists to be considered a war crime
under international law. And here is something that Gary said in his speech then at the
Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Hong Kong. “It used to be that when media wore press “emblazoned on their vest, it gave them a “degree of protection. “That labeling now is more
likely to make them a target.” At the time that he was saying this, it was, as you’ll all recall, when the Islamic State
was capturing, kidnapping, and sometimes beheading
journalists that it had taken hostage in Syria and Iraq. So that was a particularly dark time. But for all the reasons that Joel’s been talking about, it’s
pretty hard to argue that in the years since, the
climate for doing journalism around the world has
gotten a whole lot better. The public derision of
journalists at press conferences and rallies, the whole
enemy of the people thing, the dismissal of real facts as fake news, it’s absolutely true
that this has not only helped really bring about
a decline in the public’s trust and faith in reported facts, but it has emboldened other leaders, from Viktor Orban and Erdogan, to even Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, to kind of take a page out of that book and to use it as a way
to sometimes imprison, but certainly repress, journalists. And for the longest time,
for all of our lifetimes, the U.S. has always been
a beacon for free press, and has had, I think you could say, sort of the moral high
ground on that front. You know, what the future
holds we don’t know. But certainly, if you’re
Erdogan in Turkey, sitting there looking at
the United States right now, it no longer looks like such a beacon, and you might feel emboldened to do things to journalists in your country that you might not have a few years ago when you’re trying to gain access to the European Union and that sort of thing. This is also true in small town America and in Congressional
races across the country. People feel emboldened
to say and do things to journalists that they may not have a few years ago. On Friday, I attended an
event that Joel’s team at CPJ put on, along with Reuters, which is fighting for the release of two of its reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. And they hosted a gathering during the General Assembly at the U.N. in support of these and other journalists
around the world who have been imprisoned. These two were convinced
of trumped-up charges and sentenced to years of hard labor. And I have my Journalism
is Not A Crime button on from that event. I thought it would be appropriate. – Sell those, we could patent. – Yeah.
– Get a fund going here. – But I also want to highlight that there are unprecedented
numbers of journalists who have been kidnapped and imprisoned. We have seen a lot of journalists killed over the years. For every one of those, there
are a lot of near misses. And I wanted to focus
on that a little bit. I’ll give you a few
examples from my own world. My own colleague in
Myanmar, Esther Htusan, who is actually the
first Burmese journalist ever to win a Pulitzer
Prize, had to flee her home country around the same time that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been arrested. And she has not been
home in more than a year, I think, or close to a year. And I think she considers
herself the lucky one, compared to what’s happened to them. But she had people
following her home at night. She was getting threatening phone calls. It just got to the
point where it no longer seemed safe for her to be there. We have had, just in the
past couple of weeks, to evacuate journalists
from Yemen and Bangladesh because of threats and or attacks on them. But they got out and they’re alive, and they’re not safe. You know, one is in
Cairo, one is in Delhi. And I have lots of other
examples like this. I’m not gonna belabor this point. But these are journalists who work for a large news organization. The AP, while not endlessly resourced, has the resources to act
when there is a threat against one of its journalists, if we have enough advance warning. We have a Global Director of Security, who happens to be a former Deputy Director of the Secret Service. We have regional security specialists around the world who work
closely with our journalists. They assess the situation on the ground before we send people into
a dangerous situation. We have flak jackets
and helmets that we can give them when they need them, and we’ve had to deploy
those in the United States in the last few years to
cover riots and other things, more than we have in the past. We have a legal department
that is outstanding and they can fight for them. And we also have a really big platform, a huge global audience,
from which we can advocate for their safety and security. And this is something
Joel and I were talking about earlier, that Reuters
has done a fantastic job in highlighting what’s happened to these two journalists in Myanmar. But what we should worry about the most is the freelancers who
don’t have this kind of apparatus behind them and who are often younger and sometimes less experienced, and don’t have, necessarily,
the resources to get out of a country or to avoid getting into the kinds of situations. Part of this has to do with
the financial challenges that nearly all news organizations face. There just aren’t as
many job opportunities for people coming out
of journalism school, or who wanna get into journalism. That has led people to take
risks that they may not have taken a generation ago. But when the public is
of the opinion that news should be free, or should
come at very little cost, where is the money gonna
come from to invest in things like journalists’
safety, and access, and all the things that
we need to fight for to ensure a free press around the world? So that’s certainly a problem
that we can talk about a little bit more. I think I’ll leave it at that. I also wanna say that
I am a rarity, I think, in this business, because
I am a lifelong optimist. (chuckling) And I was trying to think
of some positive note to end on here in my opening statement. (chuckling) And I actually don’t have one. (laughing) These are just, these are
tough times, you know? And I’m encouraged by
events, like the CPJ one at the U.N. on Friday. I’m encouraged that
we’re here talking about these things tonight
because these are topics, things like safety, and
access, and news literacy, where we, as journalists,
as I said earlier, we shy away from advocacy,
but this is an area where we need to put up a fight. We need to get out of our
sort of defensive position and we need to see this as an area where it’s okay to be an activist. Thanks. – Thank you, Brian. I wanna–
(clapping) Just following up on that,
I wanted to talk to you and ask you about, do you
think the public understands where the United States,
where especially U.S. journalism is in regards to
things like press freedom. The World Press Freedom
Index puts the United States at 45 out of 180 countries on the index, so that’s right. There are 44 countries,
including South Africa, Jamaica, Ghana, a number
of countries that are judged by the Reporters Without Borders to have a lot more press
freedom than the United States. Where we have, it’s
enshrined in our important document that we, that
the press has the right to do what they do for
the good of the public. What do you think? Do you think people understand
where the United States falls in that? Do you think it’s… – I’m not sure there’s one answer to that. – Yeah.
– I mean, I think it has so much to do with where people live, what their access is to get information, I mean, the decline of a lot
of local news organizations had a negative effect on this, I think, in a lot of parts of the country. Maybe here’s where my
optimistic take can come in. I mean, we hear, I seem
to be the guy that gets all the hate mail at
the AP, and it stacks up on my desk. I also get a tremendous
amount of encouragement and attaboy type stuff from people. So I think there is kind of an upwelling. It feels to me like, and I
have no science, or data, or polling to back this
up, it feels to me like there’s an upwelling of awareness about press freedom issues, and
that something that we have taken for granted in
this country for generations actually is worth paying
some attention to. But I think there’s a
lot of data that shows that faith in media and in
journalism is at an all-time low. And so that shows a
different kind of awareness. – [Dawn] Right. – And I think that’s
something that we should be very, very concerned about. – I was gonna ask you Joel, one of the, on your list this year, the CPJ list of journalists who have been killed, there have been 43 journalists killed so far this year, in 2018. I happened to know two of them, one overseas, one U.S. Just quickly wanted to
talk about those two cases and then ask you about
what’s going on there. Shujaat Bukhari, who was the
editor of the Rising Kashmir newspaper in Kashmir, I met at
a Global Editor’s Conference in Lisbon on June 1. And we had a good discussion. He was curious about our fellowship, thought about applying, sent me an email when we all got back on June 5, saying this year I think I’ll try my luck, you inspired me, let’s talk some more. June 14, as he stepped out
of his office in Kashmir, he was shot. And he’d been given police
protection because of earlier attacks on him in 2000. So this time, his two security officers were also killed and disappeared. He was talked about as
a voice of moderation, a courageous, big-hearted editor by the Editor’s Guild of India. And they said, “It’s a new
low in a rapidly deteriorating “environment for media
practitioners in Kashmir “and in the country in general.” So, what’s going on in
Kashmir that he would be a target? – Well, actually, one
of our Asia researcher was just in Kashmir, – Oh.
– looking into his killing. And I’m sorry to say
that we really don’t know – [Dawn] Yeah. – who was behind it and exactly what their motivation is. And there doesn’t seem to be much of an investigation at all,
which is hardly surprising. There is some talk that maybe they were militants and exactly why he was targeted – Yeah.
– is not clear. You know, we have had a lot of incidents recently in Kashmir. The conflict there, as you
know, sort of ebbs and flows. And right now it’s not in
the sort of global spotlight, but the reality is that
conditions for journalists there continue to be extremely difficult. And I will say, more broadly about India, I mean there’s a certain
amount of attention on the fact that the Indian media based in the major cities,
in Delhi and Mumbai, has grown tremendously
as the Indian economy has grown and has literacy has increased. But the reality is that
outside of major cities, violence against journalists is endemic. And that investigations are rare, justice is rare.
– Yeah. – You also, the Modi
government has also adopted a very hostile and aggressive
posture towards the media. So there are some positive developments – Yeah.
– in India. But the overall picture is difficult. – [Dawn] The second person just
to pick out a few examples, – Yeah. – was not Kashmir or Afghanistan, but a U.S. newsroom,
– Yeah. – which was 30 miles from
our nation’s capital. Rob Hiaasen had been here
at Stanford in 2003 04. He was a JSK fellow in our program, and an editor at that time,
a reporter at that time, a writer at the Baltimore Sun. He was, I would call him a gentle giant. He was a six foot five,
an endearing storyteller and a generous mentor. And on June 28, the same
month that the editor from Kashmir was killed, 11 people were in the Capital Gazette newsroom
in Annapolis that day. Five of the 11 were killed, including Rob. And it was his wife’s birthday. They had planned to
celebrate when he got home, and he never made it home. Why are U.S. journalists being targeted? That was obviously–
– Yeah. – We haven’t had many
killings in U.S. newsrooms. – Well–
– But there’s been some discussion on
whether, was it a person who was just angry at the newsroom, or was he emboldened in some way by the current climate.
– Yeah. Well let me say a couple
of things about that first. First, Dawn, I’m really sorry
that you experienced that. And it’s very painful. And it’s something I
identify with because, lot of journalists who I meet, who come to interact with in – Yes.
– my role in CPJ, are the journalists who are most at risk. – Right.
– And sometimes, you know, I just, it’s just a matter of time. – Yeah.
– You know, they’re so, and I’m horrified and outraged, but honestly, I’m often inspired by them. Because these are journalists,
and I’ll mention one that, this is kind of a recent, painful incident with Javier Valdez, who was a very well-known journalist. – Yeah.
– in Mexico. He lived in Sinaloa, in Culiacan, covered the drug beat there. He was a close friend of
our organization, CPJ. He knew that he was threatened. We actually tried to work
to help him evacuate. And he just insisted that he had to stay and cover the story. So when these things happen, that’s the one thing that consoles me, is that it’s astounding to think that a profession that is so vilified, and denigrated, and
attacked, and undermined by our political leaders,
and this current environment, and political leaders around the world, that there are journalists
who believe so deeply in this work, and this calling, that they’re willing to give their life. And I do wanna say just a couple things about what happened at
the Capital Gazette. I think that one of the things that I talked about in the
aftermath of that killing was just that it went back into our data, and I looked at who are the journalists who are at risk. And yes, you mentioned visual journalists. – Yeah.
– And that’s one category. Another category is local journalists. I don’t think people
understand how intimate it is to be a journalist
in a local community. So, you’re covering the community. You’re not anonymous,
you run into these people at the grocery store. – Right.
– You know? In every town, whether
it’s some radio station in the Philippines or some
local newspaper in Vermont, there is somebody who’s got some terrible grudge against you and is angry and feels that they’re not treated fairly. And you mix that with
availability of guns, and I’m not just talking
about this country but in many places around the world that it’s easy to obtain weapons. And you have a pretty toxic environment. There are incidents where it seems that Trump’s rhetoric was adopted by people who threaten newsrooms. This does not seem to be the
case in the Capital Gazette. This was somebody with a
long-standing grievance. But one thing that is important to note, and this is somewhat
anomalous, without question, but I think it’s a wake-up call. So, the three most deadly
countries in the world for journalists this year are Afghanistan, number one, Syria, number two,
United States number three. (audience murmuring) – Wow. Just let that sit for a minute. – Yeah.
– Wow. – Yeah. – So, one of the things, thinking Brian, we talked a little bit earlier about all the things that AP is doing to protect its journalists around the world. And you mentioned flak
jackets, and training, and all the things that I think had been done a little bit were
done a lot more now. What is the AP doing to
protect its reporters who are out covering
the U.S. political scene where now reporters are seen as the enemy of the people? And there have been some
pretty tense moments in the pens there as
they’re covering rallies and other protests. – Yeah, I think you know, at this point, we’re lucky that it’s
been mostly tense moments. I think a lot of people
have seen the video of particularly Jim Acosta from CNN being screamed at at rallies. And even going back to the 2016 election, journalists were sort of kept in pens at a lot of these rallies,
and became kind of an object of derision,
not just from candidates, but also from people who were in the… And it’s required a level
of awareness and training among people who cover
beats that never really seemed like dangerous beats in the past. Right? And I think compared
to a lot of the things that we’re talking about,
places like Bangladesh, – Yeah.
– Yemen. It’s not the same, but
it’s something I think we didn’t think that we’d
be seeing in this country at this point in history. And it’s been really eye-opening. The day after the mid-term elections, the 2020 presidential
election is going to begin. And there are gonna be
a lot of candidates. And I think a lot of news organizations are gonna approach their
coverage with much more of a mindful eye about
safety and security. You’re gonna have a lot of organizations providing training and
guidance to political reporters that looks a lot more like what war reporters might have gone through a generation ago. And I don’t know what that
says about the climate in this country, but it’s, you know, I didn’t see it coming. I’m not sure anyone else did either. – Right, right. Exactly. Was there anything from
what you talked about that you wanted to add to? We just have a couple more minutes. Either one of you. And then we’ll open it up to questions from the–
– I wanna, one thing I wanna
– Yeah. – sort of just add to what
Brian was talking about. One of the, we just had
a conversation today, early this morning. I can’t believe it was
today, but obviously, I was in New York earlier this morning. (laughing) – [Joel] That was four days ago. We had a meeting at, like, it was 8:00 and we brought in a bunch of journalists. We had a little panel
discussion about threats against journalists in the United Stats. And we’re trying to think whether CPJ as an organization, it’s
time for us to really engage with those threats and kind of raise an alarm. You know, journalists, if
you go into this profession, you understand that people
are gonna be angry with you. And, you know, you have to have a bit of a thick skin.
– Right. – There’s no question
that’s a job requirement. If you’re doing a good job, you know, you’re gonna piss people
off at some point. But I think what’s different, one is the kind of, people
are just unleashed online. And the level of vitriol,
and it’s particularly targeting women, you know? That experience of reporting while female, and having to confront
that level of hostility, and violent, vile language,
there’s a question whether that speech is
inhibiting other people’s speech, and whether that’s an issue for us. And the other thing that
we’ve seen in our data, which is that that language
which people encounter online, when you are out there
as a journalist covering a demonstration, or you’re
doing street reporting, and there is an incident
that you come into contact with the public,
that same anger is sometimes expressed directly to your face. And so, we’ve seen, we
have this website we’ve created called the U.S.
Press Freedom Tracker. And we’re tracking these
incidents in the United States. And I was shocked. We don’t have a baseline,
so we don’t know if this number is higher than what
we’ve seen in previous years, but in the last year and
a half, there have been 75 violent incidents against journalists in the United States. – Wow.
– So that’s, I think there’s, you put that together with the Capital Gazette shooting. – Yeah.
– You put that together with some of the concerns
on the legal front, and I think we’re living
through a very dangerous moment. And I think it has
repercussions for journalists in this country, and it
also has a ripple effect as I mentioned in my opening
remarks around the world. – [Dawn] Right. – I have two quick stories. One is, the day that the Capital
Gazette shooting happened. Lately there’ve been so
many days where you’re watching things unfold and you’re thinking to yourself, like, people are gonna learn about this in history books, you know? This is–
– Yeah. – a moment where you
really wanna pay attention. I will never forget that
day, ’cause the tone in the newsroom was
different than any other day I can remember.
– Yeah. – And we are in New York
City, we’re far from where this thing is happening, but
there’s people in the room who knew people who worked there, and who knew Rob Hiassen. And people are incredibly professional, and they do their jobs,
and they go about it. But that day it just felt so different. And a part of it was just sort of waiting, like, is this, what happened here? Was this a personal
grudge, which is what it turned out to be, or is there some larger political motive here? That day, I walked out of the office, and NYPD was posted
outside of AP headquarters. And across the street from us is what was Time Inc., and is now Meredith. And there were police patrol there. – Yeah.
– And they were outside WNYC,
– Yeah. – And they were outside the
New York Times building. And the NYPD had sort
of taken it upon itself to provide an added layer of security at news organizations
that day just in case this turned out to be
some sort of larger thing. – [Dawn] Right. – Yeah, and it just like the sort of thing that just made you wanna cry. The other, though, is the
whole thing about people just doing their jobs,
I mean, amid all of us, the most important thing we can do is just do our jobs, right? I mean– – Yeah.
– Right. If you keep doing what you do and reporting the news in ways that are credible, and
accurate, and defensible, and all that, you know,
you sort of have to have some faith that will
eventually carry the day. I have a really wonderful
colleague who’s based in Kentucky named Claire Galofaro. And she covers for us Appalachia, and she covers a lot of
communities of people who are really having a hard time. Those people don’t see a lot of reporters for national news organizations come by and hang out at their barbershop or their cafe or whatever and talk to them. And she had this story
that she told me one time, which was, she was interviewing this guy who’s going on and on
about the media this, and the media that. And, you know, the mainstream
media doesn’t get it, and they’re not paying
any attention to that. And she kind of interrupted him and said, well I work for the AP,
which is about as mainstream as you can possibly get. And he said but you seem nice. (laughing) So to me, that gets to
the importance of you’ve gotta get out there and talk to people and engage with them, right? I mean, if you can, you
know, it’s sort of the, think globally, act locally
cliche applies, I think, in that, as journalists,
our individual interactions with the people that we
talk to and that we cover still really count, you know? Not everything needs to be
delivered on massive scale, but individual conversations
with people really count. And it’s really important
to me, as an editor, that we are out in those communities talking to people as
much as we possibly can. I mean–
– Yeah. – Last Thursday, the day
of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was another one of those days where I’m thinking this is something my grandchildren will be
learning about in school. We had several dozen
people out in communities all across the country just talking to men and women of all races and ethnicities, and political, you know. This is not polling, it’s not scientific, but it’s really important
to get the voices of people–
– Yeah, it is. – into your journalism,
– Yeah. – and to have that kind of
interaction with people. And hopefully that,
over time, has some kind of an impact. – Great. Thank you. We’re gonna go to questions. Michael’s got a few for me, excuse me. Thanks. So the first question,
do you think that U.S. journalists have shown
sufficient solidarity with one another when a colleague has been harassed or shut
down at a press conference by the president or other
government officials? – I’ll take that one. I mean, the first thing
I’d say is in normal times, the U.S. media, or the
U.S. public is well served by a hyper-competitive media. You know, it’s really hard to get journal, I mean, I do this for a living,
so I know how hard it is. It’s hard to get journalists
to kind of unite forces. The threat has to be really pronounced. So at first I sorta thought,
okay, you want journalists who are, you have to understand,
we see that take place in the White House briefing room, and that’s essentially a show. There’s not a heck of a lot
of news that gets made there. There’s a lot of grandstanding. There’s a lot of disfunction
that we all observe. But the basic notion that
it should be difficult to get journalists to come
together I think is correct. But the time has come. – Yeah.
– The time has come. We just can’t pretend anymore that this is business as usual,
and there’s been a little bit of that. There’s been, Fox News
has complained when a CNN reporter who was–
– Yeah. – part of a pool was denied access. – [Joel] Yeah. – We need to see that kind of– – That’s pretty exceptional, I think. – We need, it’s exceptional, and we need to see that sort of thing. Where there is a lotta
cooperation among media organizations is through
the work that we do, where it’s real risk of fiscal danger and you’re talking about
overseas deployments and threats to journalists deployed in high-risk environments. There’s a lot of information shared, a lot of solidarity, a
lot of the AP sticking up for Reuters and Reuters
sticking up for AP. But I think the fact that it’s difficult to get the U.S. media to come together is actually a good thing,
but I think the alarm should have gone off by now. – [Dawn] Okay. – [Joel] You know, we spend a lot of time talking about safety. – Yeah.
– And another huge issue that we spend a
lot of time on is access. This is an area in
which news organizations traditionally do join
forces because there’s strength in numbers,
and that might be filing lawsuits over getting access to documents through FOIA, or when people get shut
out of press conferences and stuff like that. I think on access issues,
there has been a lot of coalition building historically, and I think that’s something that we can kind of build on. – We all know a lot
about what Trump has done for press freedom. – [Joel] We do? – I’m not sure I do. (audience member laughing) But how did the George Bush
and Obama administrations contribute to the
decline in press freedom? – Can I? – Yeah, you go first
and I’ll have at that. – Well, so, we are, we are, I don’t know, 20 years into a steady decline in terms
of the public’s access, particularly to the White
house that began, really, with the Clinton administration, and then the Bush administration. Not that long ago, our Executive Editor Sally Buzbee and me were going to conferences saying the Obama administration is the
most media-unfriendly administration in U.S. history. They conducted more leaks investigations and put more journalists under subpoena than any previous administration. Oddly, the access to
the Trump administration is actually–
– Yeah. – Better than–
– Really? – Yeah.
– access to the Obama administration.
– For the– – Journalists have more
access to the president and the people around the president now than they did, certainly during the second term of Obama. But, you know, that is obviously countered by all of the rhetoric
about enemies of the people and fake news. It’s just different. But it’s part of the continuum. It’s not something that
just started two years ago. It’s been something that’s
been in steady decline for a long time. And I think it’s important
to remember that. – Yeah, we did a big report called The Obama Administration
and the Press in 2013, written by Len Downie, Junior, the former Executive Editor
of the Washington Post that chronicled the Obama administration’s aggressive leak investigations, including its use of the Espionage Act, this 1917, completely,
that basically criminalizes publication of, or could
be used to criminalize publication of confidential information. And also, a lot of the people that were interviewed for that
report described Obama, the Obama administration,
and Obama in particular, as sort of a control
freak who had amazing, he, you know, the thing about covering the Obama administration
during that period is he was a very effective manager, and he hated leaks. And he did a pretty good
job of stamping ’em out, and of investigating people within his administration who leaked. And he also understood the new dynamics of the media, and he did a lot of end runs around the media. So if he wanted to talk
to a specific audience, he might forego a media interview and do Between Two Ferns or go on– – Right.
– Go on Jon Stewart or something. And so this drove us
absolutely around the bend. You know, let’s keep
something in mind about Trump. Yes, he attacks the media all the time. People don’t like that. But his administration leaks like a sieve. (laughing) – Yeah.
– Everyone is talking to everyone, there’s plenty of access. – Yeah.
– And he does nothing but watch television all day long. (laughing) He’s obsessed with the media. So, like, journalists under Obama felt slightly irrelevant, and under Trump, they don’t like being called the enemies of the people, they don’t
like being screamed at, but Trump is obsessed with traditional media coverage.
– Right. – At least they feel relevant. – Yeah, I mean, let’s not forget the Obama Justice Department wire-tapped the AP and didn’t tell us about it until after they had already gotten
the results they wanted out of that, and they used
it to flush out a leaker who’s now in jail. – Yeah.
– Great, great. I have time for one quick one. What is the obligation
of news organizations to protect freelancers,
moral slash ethical if not legal? – Well I’ll take that one first. I mean, I think that, I
wanna go back to a point I made at the beginning,
which is about what I call the information ecosystem, or the media ecosystem. So we no longer live in a period in which information and news
organizations are hierarchical, where you have your editors and you have your correspondents deployed,
and everything filters up. They’re kind of, the
information networks that allow us to be informed are very horizontal. And they include freelancers,
and people are very focused on that. But I would then talk about
the next step which is, when you’re talking about
it from the perspective of people in this room or an international news
organization, local journalists. If you are working in,
whether you’re working in Myanmar, or you’re working in– – Right.
– You know, in Mexico. Or you’re working in Nigeria, the information that your, have access to that you report for a global audience comes from the local press. So they’re part of that
information ecosystem. And so are, because of technology, what you might call
eyewitnesses who document and record what they see,
and share that information via social media. That makes it into this
information stream. I think, certainly from my perspective, that we should have the
broadest possible vision of all of these people
who are contributing to our global understanding
and have a robust framework for defending
all of their rights. I think it’s absolutely essential to see ourselves as journalists
as part of a much broader network of people who
gather and disseminate information to the public. – Yeah, we don’t really differentiate. I mean, we work with freelancers
all around the world. And if you’re working for
us, and a story that you write or shoot gets you
into a lot of trouble in your home country, we
feel we have an obligation to protect you no different than if you’re a full-time employee of the AP. There’s a whole nother
realm here that I think is, just, it’s really a burgeoning issue for a lot of news organizations, which is that there are
parts of the world in which our view isn’t professional journalists or freelancers, it’s people. You know?
– Yeah. – A lot of what we have seen out of Syria over the last few years–
– Right. – is user-generated content. – Yeah.
– Yeah. – And it’s certainly possible that someone who shoots a piece of
video or takes a picture that ends up getting
published around the world by the AP, or Reuters, the New York Times, might put themselves
at risk by doing that. And it’s very much gotta be
part of the conversation. Not only did you take this
and are you willing to, do you understand all of the rights, the copyrights, and the
implications of distribution, but are you in a place
now where you’re safe so when this gets
published that you’re not gonna suffer some repercussions for it. – [Dawn] Yeah. – And I think this is something
a lotta news organizations are struggling with.
– Yeah. Even beyond the freelancer
question is what is your obligation to the safety of people who provide you with
user-generated content that you might not be paying for at all? – Right. Well let’s give a round of
applause to our speakers, (clapping) Joel Simon, Brian Carovillano. (clapping) We’re gonna take a 10 minute, quick break. – Okay, so welcome back. Everyone can hear me now? Great. (clapping) So, just a couple of
additional housekeeping things now that we’re back. If you ran out of cards, or you don’t have an index card and you still might like to ask a question, just raise your hand and Ericka will ensure you get a card so that you can ask your question. If you posed a question
for the first panel and we didn’t get to
it, we are saving some of those questions. Each of our nights
throughout October are themed and some of the questions
fit better with some of the other discussions
we’re going to have. So we hope to get to as many of those as we possibly can. But now that we’ve heard
from two executives who are at the forefront of protecting our press freedom here
in the United States and around the world, let’s hear from some of the people who are
actually on the ground. Our next panel will introduce you to some of the journalists who
are taking the risks, both legal and physical,
to help bring important stories into the light. Please join me in welcome
on my far right, Roman Anin. Roman is a member of the JSK
Fellowship’s class of 2019. He is head of the investigative section of Moscow-based Novaya
Gazeta, one of the most famous Russian newspapers in the world. His projects have revealed corruption in the military, politics, and business, including in construction contracts for the 2014 Winter Olympics. He was a member of the Panama
Papers investigative team, which delved deeply into
the financial dealings of offshore entities, political leaders, corporations, and business people. That investigation
received the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2017. To my immediate right is Joel Konopo. Joel, as well as a member
of the JSK Fellowship’s class of 2019, he is an
investigative journalist and managing partner of the Ink Center for Investigative Journalism,
a nonprofit newsroom in Gaborone, Botswana. Prior to establishing
Ink, Joel was the editor of the Botswana Guardian newspaper and he also was part of the
Panama Papers investigation. To my immediate left,
Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab is an independent investigative
journalist in Mexico. She has covered issues
related to drug trafficking, state corruption, political assassinations and human rights. She has worked in a
range of Mexican media, and in 2013, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Journalism for her work with New York Times reporter David Barstow on the use of multi-million dollar bribes by Walmart in Mexico. And on my far left is H.R. Venkatesh. Venkatesh is a member
of the JSK Fellowship’s class of 2019. He has more than 16 years of experience as a journalist. He’s worked on countering
disinformation and bias, and has worked to reinvent coverage of critical health and
developmental issues. In 2015, he was the editor at The Quint, and before that, Director
of Communications at in India. He was also a senior anchor
at CNN IBN for nine years. He’s also the founder of NetaData, a journalism project that
seeks to bridge divides by creating safe spaces for debate. So, we’re here to hear
from these journalists who are on the front lines. (clapping) Let’s dive right in. My first question is for Roman. Roman, according to CPJ,
58 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992. At least five journalists
at your news organization have been murdered since 2000. Have you ever been personally threatened? What steps have you taken to protect yourself and your loved ones? – Yeah, so I would like to start with my brave colleagues,
and I knew some of them who were killed. There were not five, but
four members of the staff and two people who worked closely with us. And I think it’s important
to know their names. So I, my section is named under the name Yuri Shchekochikhin. He is considered to be the father of investigative reporting
in Russia, actually. And he was poisoned by, as we believe, Secret Services in
Russia ’cause he reported a lot about corruption
within the Secret Services. Then we had Igor Domnikov. He reported a lot about
regional authorities and he was killed by a
very cruel organized gang. Then we had Anna Politkovskaya. She reported about Northern Caucasus. And she was shot down near her apartment. And two people were shot
down also in the streets in the center of Moscow. They reported about neo-Nazis. And then we had Natalia Estemirova. She also was killed for
covering Northern Caucasus. So you see the topics quite different, and yeah, so people can
do anything but still something can happen to them. So, I mean, but still
I wanna be, you know, frankly the situation is changing today. It’s changing to the better ’cause the last attack
on journalists in Moscow was a number of years ago,
Oleg Kashin was beaten. And I’m talking now
about national reporters, ’cause in the regions,
the situation is worse. But there is no one in journalism, so the journalism in the
Russian regions is dead, almost dead. And that is why there’s
nothing even to say with what’s going on there. I faced threats a number of times, but I didn’t consider them. I mean, twice we thought
that they were serious. And there is only one recipe in this case. You just leave the country immediately. So, you know, I don’t wanna
exaggerate the problem which is Russia, ’cause many people think that this is like a war zone. It’s not, I mean it’s
still not a bad place for reporters, at least, I
mean, many topics to cover when the state is corrupt, so for my… (laughing) Yeah, I mean, you know,
people from Sweden, they envy me, ’cause there is nothing to cover in Sweden, while in Russia there is plenty of job.
(laughing) So for my 10 years of
investigative reporting, I had to leave the country only twice, which is, I think is not
a kind of, bad percentage. – Okay, thank you. So, I just, sort of
naturally following you, let me turn to you Xanic. Just less than two weeks ago, journalist Mario Leonel Gómez Sánchez was gunned down outside
his home in Mexico. What steps do you take to protect yourself from physical threats? – I think, well I take the, I’m basically very cautious. I just, it’s not like I feel
under threat continuously, it’s just when we work on
difficult, or tough stories, we do sort of higher the alert and become more careful. And being careful includes
really just basic stuff like being very careful
with your cell phone, not having any important
information, contacts, contact information in
our cell phones that could put some other people
or our sources at risk if somebody got to our cell phone, or being very careful with a computer and the information on the computer so as nobody else can, nobody
can access to information that can put others at risk. And just basically walking carefully and looking to the sides. But I may not be the best case because I work in Mexico City. And although covering Mexico City has also become difficult, now that we’re starting to cover cartels, drug cartels working in Mexico City, which was, for many years, like an isle, like the protected part of the country. This used to be a haven for reporters, and we pretty much work
in safer conditions than reporters in local, that
are covering local politics. Because from what we know,
and the studies made so far, most of the threats
and most of the attacks on reporters occur, or come from, the politicians who are
involved with the cartels or the organized crime. So basically, it’s, but
what I do see is I have colleagues who work in
different parts of the country who have to work under the protection, or so-called protection, of police. So you have a reporter covering, imagine, whichever story going on a car with three huge bodyguards, armed bodyguards. And reporters who have to
live with a huge chain of, how do you say, locks on
their doors that you can hardly believe anybody can live behind. So the lives of many have been affected, many reporters have been affected. The chance that they
do very good and solid investigative work can be affected also because of that protection structure that has come about when there is a reporter at risk. So that’s a mechanism the
government has come up to. When a reporter is at
risk, they come up with these protection strategies,
which we don’t know if they’ll protect them, or we just cripple journalism, as well.
– Right. – Okay, thank you. So continuing this sobering thread, Venkatesh, 48 journalists have been killed in India since 1992, three this year. And you’ve worked as a
television journalist, you’ve worked as an online journalist, you have a broad view
of the media landscape. Picking up on this thread from Xanic, is it more dangerous for
journalists in cities such as Delhi or Bangalore? Or is this a problem in other areas? Are the dangers more physical, or legal? Give us the overview. – Yeah, I will say that
threats against journalists in India, they fall under
two broad categories, the acute threats, and
then chronic threats. And so acute threats are, you
can’t make generalizations saying urban areas are more dangerous or rural areas are more dangerous, because, after the people
we have seen killed in the recent past in
India, one was in Bangalore. And she was gunned down
in front of a house in a very well-lit colony,
in a safe neighborhood. And then–
– This was the death about a year ago?
– This is Gauri Lankesh. Yes. And then Shujaat Bukhari
was killed in Kashmir. But the thing is, I would
say that journalists in non-urban areas are under more threat. And I wanna link that
to the chronic threat. So the chronic threat is more low-key, but it’s no less pernicious. For example, I would say that there are, again, under this chronic bucket, there are three broad threats. One is, you know, 30%
of most all advertising avenue for most newspapers in India comes from the government. And when it comes from the government, it’s not very difficult for governments to put journalists under pressure. And it leads to self-censorship. The second is, you know, there is a saying in
India that journalists were only asked to bend, but they crawled. So what happens is, in a
scenario where in theory you have press freedom,
the Indian Constitution guarantees press freedom,
but because of government censorship and other forms of censorship, there is this tendency among journalists to not stick their necks out, which I think is pernicious, and because it comes
amid a culture a fear. And India is, I think, 138th in the world Press Freedom Index. And geography and demography
also plays a big role. For example, it’s not easy
for an Indian journalist in, let’s say Bangalore,
to help the Indian journalist in another part of the country because they’re divided by language. There are 22 official languages. And they’re also divided by geography, and the terrain is different, and the literacy levels are different. So the challenges just to
uphold press freedom are many. So, acute and chronic, both are problems. – Yeah, okay. So Joel, now in Botswana, CPJ reports there haven’t been any journalists killed in recent years. However, there are
substantial legal threats. Give us an understanding of what the media landscape is like in Botswana and some of the challenges of working there as an investigative journalists. – Yeah, basically, the situation is almost similar to what Venkatesh explained as a chronic example
in which we have a very tedious political aristocracy. The president, at least until April, he left office. He had actually said he does not respect, he has got no respect for private presses, especially political press. The judiciary (woman
coughing blocks audio) to government. Most of the litigation, the newspapers or private media loses the
cases most all the time. And this creates a culture
of self-censorship. And because the government
is the main, also, provider of, I think it’s 70%, provider of advertising, it creates, government chooses to actually decide who to advertise with and it creates direct starvation of the media. Then again, there will be self-censorship because most of the media obviously wants to survive. – So, to follow up on that, how have you, being managing director
of an investigative journalism center, how do
you deal with that threat? I mean, how do you, in your organization, resist such government pressure? – The advantage is that we are, we don’t rely on government for funding, at least we rely on George
Soros and Al-la Fan-dos. So we are kind of insulated, at least at the level of funding. So we don’t need to get
funding from government. But the biggest challenge happens to be surveillance on investigative journalists, tapping of phones, break-ins. And we do very little,
the best that we can, including trying to protect our hardwares and software, and really
tend to to provide physical security into our residences. And always checking your shoulder if somebody is following
you and things like that. But we are lucky, we have
partners around the world. We have OCCRP in Romania, which helps us with technical support. We have ICIJ in Washington. – And what is ICIJ? – Oh, the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists,
based in Washington. That has been doing the Panama Papers and Paradise Paper, and
Alan, Alum-rija-leaks. Normally when we are under
threat, they are able, because they have the platforms, to amplify the concerns and we tend to see a reduced level of threats, normally. – Okay, picking up on
something that you mentioned, just this week, the Committee
to Protect Journalists, Joel’s organization, issued an advisory for journalists in more than 40 countries in terms of their security,
especially on mobile devices because of the proliferation of spyware, which could be used to
monitor their movements. So all of you work in environments where the potential for being spied on by government or other actors is there. How do you protect yourself? Let’s start with Roman. What do you do in terms of
security for your devices and for what you’re working on? – Well, you know, the
first rule about security is never talk about security if you wanna be secure, right? (laughing) So why would you tell people what you use? (laughing) But let’s assume that there
is a lot of open source apps, which of course I don’t use, but you know, they might work for you. I don’t know, I mean, you
know, like Signal is very good app for messaging and for calling, so it provides encrypted phone calls. Of course, I mean, there are some other, I mean, it depends on
what kind of job you do. So let’s say there is, Signal is good, but it’s bad because
it still demands you to connect with your phone number. And say if our reporters work in Chechnya, even the fact that they have a number of somebody from Chechnya will become very dangerous for that person. Which means that we need
an app which allows you to connect, to create an account, without the mobile number. And such apps exists, as well. And I will not tell you their names, but they do exist. If you have some secret
records, or some leaks, it’s of course it would
be cool to keep them in encrypted containers,
such as VeraCrypt, a very good app which allows you to create those encrypted containers. Of course, it’s good to encrypt your hard drive with passwords. So say my account was hacked, my Gmail account was
hacked five years ago. And the technology the
Russian Secret Services use was pretty cool, you know? What they did, and that is actually what guys from Google tell me
about it, but they didn’t, you know, ’cause they
don’t create Gmail for, they don’t think that Russians will, by that time they didn’t
know that Russians will be so smart. (laughing) So what they do, they just, you know, they, I had the recovery
for, probably each of you have the recovery phone
number with your account, so if you forget your
password, they will send a recovery code to your SIM card, which is very vulnerable. ‘Cause what Russian Secret Services did, they cloned my SIM card,
switched off my SIM card, and they got the recovery code on the cloned SIM card, and
that’s how they were able to hack my Gmail account. But you know what? I was not very upset
’cause 70% of my email is encrypted with my PGP. And I think that guys
from FSB were very unhappy when they got the whole Gmail stuff and it was encrypted, and
they couldn’t decrypt it. So there are plenty of
cyber security things which everybody can use. And I would probably
recommend you a very cool website summarize all of them, and it’s called Security in a Box. Securityinabox dot probably net. There is bunch of tools,
which we constantly, some people constantly use, but not me. – Yeah. (laughing) So, we won’t talk about security anymore because we shouldn’t. So… (laughing) Turning to Xanic, so freedom of the press doesn’t just mean having the freedom to hold government accountable. It’s also about being able to hold the powerful accountable. Sometimes that means
companies like Walmart. You and David at the New York Times, you won the Pulitzer for your story on how Walmart used bribery. I read that you filed more than 800 Freedom of Information requests and spent years working on that story. How do you even begin to
tackle such a mammoth story, and to navigate its complex angles? – Well I had the fortune
to have David Barstow as the head of the team. So that’s how. (laughing) But I think it’s, I think
what was very unique about that project is that the Freedom of Information law in Mexico, which now gives us access to documents, records, in the hands of the government, was pretty new when we
started the project. I mean, it had been around
for probably eight years. And you have had FOIA for so much longer. So what we had is the
team, we had David Barstow expertise in using the
Freedom of Information Act in the U.S. with all its twists and turns. He knew, like, the shortcuts. He knew more about how bureaucracy thought and what they were thinking
when we asked them questions. He knew what it meant for a bureaucrat to be asked, I mean, to
be confronted with that decision of giving or
retaining information from a reporter. And on the other hand,
we had my ingenuity, which was also good. (chuckling) It turned out. And also we had a law
that turned out to be even better than the U.S. FOIA law. The Mexican law basically sets deadlines that no-one in the U.S. has. You can wait for six months for a FOIA, for an answer in the U.S. And you have 20 working days in Mexico. So I think what we did is my knowledge of the Mexican bureaucracy
and the way of thought and David’s expertise
with FOIA and how this obligation to deliver records makes a bureaucracy work. It helped us a lot into understanding and making a strategy into how to find the very well-hidden proof that there had been corruption in Mexico. – Okay, thank you. So picking up that thread, Venkatesh, so I’ve got a thread in acumen, and you can tell us what it means. What is RTI, and how does
that help journalists in India in their work? – RTI is a landmark
legislation that was passed in the early 2000s, and it stands for Right to Information,
which is pretty similar to the Freedom of Information and the act you were describing. And in India, it’s 30 working days. – Yeah.
– Which is also pretty good. And the thing is, it
was passed about, what, 15, 16 years ago, and
it led to the formation of RTI activists across the country. And in fact, if there
is any community that is in more danger than journalists, it’s the RTI activists who, you know, started filing these RTI requests through every level of government, local to national and state, and started getting information that was embarrassing to people
who were in government. But what has happened in
the last couple of years is that the new administration has sort of wised up and is making it difficult, within the loopholes of the law, to give information to journalists, or anybody who is filing an RTI request. And so, it’s, like, there’s
a wave of RTI activists. They were attacked, but
there’s wave upon wave. But at the same time now,
the current administration has stamped down on that. And then there is a sort
of response to that, which is trying to get around the way the government does that. And it is still something
that is taking shape as we speak. – Wow. So, you focused in your
work a lot on training journalists in workshops
and that sort of thing. Is that one of the things
you’re trying to help journalists do, to navigate
this byzantine landscape? – Increasingly, I mean,
I just want to recall what Joel was saying
in the previous panel, which is that it is no longer possible for a journalist, or an RTI activist, or a couple of journalists,
to have the kind of impact that they desire through
their series of stories. It’s more important for them to work in collaboration with other journalist, whether the other
journalists are in the same organization or are across organizations. So increasingly my work is focused on fostering this kind of collaboration. And in the last four to
five months, for example, I’ve put together a coalition
of newsrooms in India to gear up for the big election, the national election, that’s
going to happen in 2019. And the idea is to sort of
focus on disinformation, misinformation, other forms of information that is manipulated. And I’m happy to report
that, at this stage, a lot of organizations are
enthusiastic about this. Yeah.
– That’s great to hear. So let’s take an example from Botswana. Joel has worked on
several notable projects, including the Panama
Papers, as we’ve mentioned. But another notable investigation involved Ink uncovering how government funds were being misspent to build a huge retirement complex for the president. (audience murmuring) Despite, you know, the
government in Botswana is mired in secrecy. And of course they didn’t
want that story told. How did you uncover it? – Maybe just briefly,
let me also explain that out of the 54 African
countries, only 18 have laws that promote access to information. And as you mentioned earlier,
Ghana and South Africa are topped up there. So Botswana doesn’t have a law that promotes access to information that you call FOIA here. So what happens is that
we, the public tends to trust the journalists so much that they believe when
there’s something going on, only the media can, especially
private journalists, can really deal with their problems. So President Khama, his name was Khama. He retired in April this year. He, ahead of his retirement,
he was constructing, using the military to
construct for himself, using taxpayer’s money, an estuary worth six million dollars in the bush, in the middle of the country. Botswana has got vast
tourism, and he was just on the edge of sort of a delta where there’s a lot of tourism. And almost a villa, or a mini really paradise for himself. So the Army was concerned
that they are being made to do stuff for corruption, really. So we set out 600 miles to the place. And the long and short
of the story is that when we were just about five miles, we were targeted by plain-clothed officers who apparently happened
to know what we were up to in the bush, and they
stopped us and told us, where you are going, you
are not supposed to go. They didn’t even ask
us where we were going, they told us it is not place to go there. They then interrogated
us, I think for two hours. But we managed, during the interrogation, to call one of the lawyers with Fi-yet. And they got to know that we did that and it really kind of balanced the scales in terms of the conversations in the bush. And they were carrying guns,
driving expensive SUVs. So what they did finally
was that they asked us to go back to the city,
or wherever we came from. So what was striking was that we went to the police, to the
nearest police station, to report, because it
was, to us, intimidation. Because what they did was, they said, before they returned,
they asked us to return, they said you Joel and your colleague, who, we are managing,
the co-managing partner. No matter what happens in
the future, we are asking you to return, but in the
future, don’t ever think of setting your foot here. If you do, we will shoot you and kill you. And this is an officer of law with a gun that is owned by the state. And he’s telling you
that he will kill you. And at the time, my
daughter was three months. And I told him, I have a child. He said yeah, but you understand through the barrel of a gun, so what we will do is we will kill you, you
will never see your child. So it was scary. We had to go to police station. And the officer was
surprised that we actually mustered the courage to go, to try to just follow that mu-tay-sack. What are you doing there? You guys, you are also,
because this is the nature in Africa whereby presidents
shouldn’t be questioned up to the time they let go
because they are elders. So you should not be questioning elders. So we kind of gave up and
went back to the city. But two months later, we
engaged a U.S. company called Global, Digital
Global, to get an image, the satellite image of that compound. Because we did not get there,
we didn’t take the pictures. So the story became bigger
because we managed now to have a bird’s eye
view of the residence, which showed now the
length of the estuary, the extent of the project,
the military trucks, and the bowsers busy at work. And the state did not like that. Two months later, there
was a serious break-in in our office. First there was a visit
by plain-clothes officers saying they’re just paying a visit, and they’re very clear what they want. Two days later, there was a break-in, which we would protect and normally does now and then. I’m still investigating up to now. – Wow.
– So this is the nature of things that are very
normal in Botswana. – Well thank you for sharing. My next question is for Roman. You’ve heard the Panama Papers
mentioned several times. Ramon, of course, worked
on the Panama Papers. He worked on the subsequent project, the Paradise Papers. His work over a five year period revealed the disappearance of
one billion dollars from Russia’s budget that ended
up in offshore accounts and shell companies throughout Europe. So Ramon, in a country such as Russia, how do you even begin to get the records to follow the money, to
track down such a story? – Well first of all, part of this billion appeared in the U.S. They used 20 million to buy
properties in Manhattan, so you know, some of the dirty money goes to the U.S. as well. And there was a seal
for future case studied after that investigation, and
which ended up just recently. Believe it or not, Russia is very open in public records. So we’ve got company records, we’ve got court records, and actually some of the data being saved better than here in the U.S. ’cause they constantly use PACER, you know? And sometimes I spend like, I don’t know, half of my salary on
getting all those records from the American database of courts. So if people from PACER
are watching this video, guys, do something ’cause, you know, – It’s too expensive.
– We gotta loss of all of money in Russa, you know, just to read your records. (laughing) Well in Russia, and still you know, you just can search by the party name, while in Russia you can
search by any keyword. So our open, I mean, we’re
very good at open records. What they try to do
sometimes, when there were, when there was a series of investigations against Secret Services, and
after which I was hacked, what they tried to do, they tried to close the property register. But then they suddenly
realized that, you know, if they do that the number of frauds in the real estate, it
will just, it will go high. And they invented something
smarter, they think, so they started deleting the names of the officials from the records. So you say you can go
somewhere, the Moscow ridge, and you will see a very big house and if you wanna check who’s
the owner of the house, you’ll get just the line saying that there is a physical person
owning the house, you know? I mean, I don’t know what’s, what they do is what are they gonna put in? Maybe they say metaphysical
person owning the house. (laughing) You know? But those properties
which belong to officials or their relatives, they
just deleted the names. But records are still available and we are very open in this sense. 70% of stories I do come
actually from open records. – Okay, thank you very much. So at this time, we’re
going to turn to questions form the audience. So… Excuse me. Thank you. Okay, so, one of the first questions we’ll turn to will go to Alejandra, to Xanic. You’ve worked with many
news organizations, but as an independent
journalist, a freelancer, why be independent? Does it make your job
easier or more difficult? – Well I thought when I started being independent journalist,
what I thought is that, first I was very shy. I was too shy to work,
look for an actual job. I moved to the capital city and I was totally panicked with big newsrooms. But really what made me
an independent journalist is the idea that I
could probably make more in-depth investigation
on my own than I could, what I could do, in a
media organization where there’s basically no
room for investigation. So that was the reason
that took me on the, what happened is that, in the end, I actually did more of the
work I didn’t want to do just to pay the rent. And then, but I was able to
subside my own investigations and bring some sense to
my, room for my passion. But what I find right
now is that you have, I think being, I started
being a freelancer when nobody was a freelancer. And officials in Mexico, you would say you’re an independent journalist. And they would go like,
independent from what? (laughing) But now, you have lots and lots
of independent journalists. And I think what the late
motif is that they’re all wanting to open
space for investigative pieces or for stories that are not being, that are not finding their way, through the mainstream media. As happens in Botswana
and, from what I hear, in India too, the big issue in Mexico, apart from organized crime, is the lack of independent media. We don’t have businesswomen
and businessmen in the media who have
interesting, or have innovated, or have explored new avenues to sustain their business other
than government advertising. And that has really cut
the freedom of speech very, very harshly. There are zones of silence
in Mexico where things are just not published because the owners of the media, either
because the drug cartels are too big of a threat, or because the media
owners are just unwilling to let some stories go. So more and more you have a huge crowd of freelance reporters trying to get those stories out. – Okay, Thank You. So our next question, and several of you may want to respond to this, but we’ll start with Ramon. What about increasing threats to informants and witnesses? Are these threats making it difficult to find sources? – Yeah, that’s probably
the first time today when I will try to get serious. ‘Cause, I mean, my main concern are people we talk to, ’cause they are in, this is the most dangerous
situation for them. Since there are not so
many independent media left in Russia, some of people really risk their life to talk to us. And that’s, when I talk to my reporters, that’s the only topic
where I really get serious. And I say that, look, this
is your responsibility to save their lives, and
this is your responsibility to make them feel safe. And, you know what? I mean, it’s not so
difficult, to be honest. I mean, it is difficult, but
if you follow certain rules, and if you treat it
seriously, none of my sources, you know, as we do it in
Russia, (knocking on wood) none of my sources has
ever been exposed or, say, faced any threats and problems because we follow the procedure. Well I know examples
in Russia where people just didn’t give a, how
do you say it normally, didn’t care about their sources. And some of their sources were imprisoned, and I know some examples
when people even were killed because they didn’t
care about the security. So yeah, protect sources is point one in our modus operandi in my office. – [Matthew] Anyone else? Thank you–
– Well just wanted to offer a general comment. Because increasingly
there’s the media in India, and I think around the world as well, is under pressure to be
more and more transparent. And it’s a good thing. But the big dilemma is what
do you do with informers? What do you do with whistle-blowers? And in India, there’s
a whistle-blowing law, but it’s not enough. And the question is, there
is increasing pressure to name your sources,
except in cases where naming sources is going to be a serious danger. So I see from an observer perspective, I see these two movements clashing. To increase credibility,
there’s this tendency in a lot of Indian news, in
which a reporter will say, sources say, unnamed sources say. And so, I think that
has been abused a lot, in some cases, and in some
cases, there are journalists who are doing a lot of
valuable work working with informers and whistle-blowers,
and they need to keep their identities under wraps
under any circumstance. Sometimes the pressure
to reveal sources ends up compromising this
situation where witnesses need to be protected at all costs. – Yeah. So unfortunately, we’re drawing close to the end of our time together this evening. I have one more question
that I’ll throw open to the panel. We’ve heard about physical dangers, we’ve heard about legal threats. How do you maintain hope as a journalist in the face of all that you endure? What keeps you going? – Yeah, if I may start. You tend to know that what
you are doing is good, it is very in public interest, and you know that if you can’t do it, who else will. And there are youngsters
who look up to you, young journalists, and you
need to do things right so that they will have the confidence to do things right as well. So to me, that is the best motivation. – [Matthew] Thank you. – Yeah. – So I came to, I became
a journalist in 2006, 12 years ago, and I was
really an idealist, right? So I believed that
journalism can really change, at least my country, for the better. So it’s gone, like a long time ago. I don’t believe that we can
change something for better, and I’m not kidding. I’m cynical. Being cynical today in Russia
is saving your time, right? So I’m cynical in this sense. Simultaneously, if people don’t need it, then they just don’t need it. You know? What keeps me doing this
job, just one thing, I love it. So I really love the process. I love the process of finding the story. I love the process of
publishing the story. I love the process of writing. So I just love my job. And that’s what’s keeps me going on and continuing, yeah, the job. – [Matthew] Thank you. – Well I’m an optimist by nature, but I have to agree with Roman there that I’m quite skeptical now. And the reason for that is
there’s so much information, there’s information
overload, that’s coming from all directions for your average citizen, that it’s very, very difficult to find the journalism that not just informs but also educates. And for those reasons,
because of a combination of technology and
WhatsApp is a major source of happiness in India, but it’s also a major source of problems. And so, I see problems for
journalism are multiplying, but at the same time,
what gets me going is that happy confluence of,
what am I good at doing, what I like doing, and what, frankly, gets me paid to do, so I’ll keep going. (laughing) – [Matthew] Xanic, any closing thoughts? – Well I guess what keeps me
going is I have the feeling that in Mexico we have a
big debt with the public, with the audience. I think we’ve fed them
with very, very lousy work for many, many years. The media in Mexico were, for many years, like the loudspeakers for the powerful. It was just quotes, and
quotes, and quotes, and quotes. No end. And so, I’m really, I think we, I do believe in the public
service of journalism. And I do think we are in very big debt, and I do hope that we can engage readers and audiences if we just go to, shift to another way of doing journalism. And I’m seeing more and more of that, and that’s what has me very excited. – Thank you. We’ll have to leave it there. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in thanking our panel. (clapping) – So thank you all for being here tonight. I’d like to thank all the panelists from both panels. Let’s just give them one
more round of applause. (clapping) Next Tuesday, it’s Power to the People: Holding
the Powerful Accountable. And we’re gonna be talking about, we have some people who
are the managing director of the Panama Papers. We’re gonna get more deeply into that. As well as Trump’s truth-checker from the Toronto Star. And we’re going to be
talking about holding the powerful accountable
around the world and in D.C. And I think you’ll find some hopeful notes in that presentation. Thank you very much. We’ll see you Tuesday night. (clapping)

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