11th January 2016
By Stefanie Chernow

Ethical Journalism Network Newsletter – 12 January 2016


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Coverage of Isis videos should be about news, not propaganda

There is a simple set of guidelines used by the Guardian’s editors when a video involving Isis killings is released. But undoubtedly they will have to be reviewed, writes the Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliot.

Read the full article here. (The Guardian)

How Rolling Stone Handled Ramifications of El Chapo Exclusive

Several months ago, Jann Wenner, a founder of Rolling Stone magazine, received a call from the actor Sean Penn.

Mr. Penn, Mr. Wenner said in an interview on Sunday, wanted to discuss something important. But he did not want to speak openly over the phone, so the two began to speak elliptically about a potential project.

That vague conversation was the beginning of what eventually became an article, written by Mr. Penn, that rocked both Mexico and the United States when it was published Saturday night. It was an exclusive interview with Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the notorious drug kingpin known as El Chapo, that was conducted while Mr. Guzmán was on the run from the authorities after an audacious escape from a Mexican prison last year.

Read the full article here. (New York Times)

El Chapo Speaks – A secret visit with the most wanted man in the world

The Rolling Stone article started with the following disclaimer:

Disclosure: Some names have had
 to be changed, locations not named, and an understanding was brokered with the subject that this piece would be submitted for the subject’s approval before publication. The subject did not ask for any changes.

Read Sean Penn’s article here. (Rolling Stone)

Why many consider Sean Penn’s ‘El Chapo’ meeting an ‘epic insult’ to Mexican journalists

Read the full article here. (Independent)

Why 2016 could be a breakout year for drone journalism

Three and a half years ago, journalist-turned educator Matt Waite won a $50,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to kickstart a fledgling drone program at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dubbed the “Drone Journalism Lab” by Waite, the program sought to establish an early foothold among the small but growing cohort of journalists using unmanned aircraft for reporting.

Read the full article here. (Poynter)

ProPublica Launches the Dark Web’s First Major News Site

THE SO-CALLED DARK web, for all its notoriety as a haven for criminals and drug dealers, is slowly starting to look more and more like a more privacy-preserving mirror of the web as a whole. Now it’s gained one more upstanding member: the non-profit news organization ProPublica.

Read the full article here. (Wired)

The media’s complicated role in Making a Murderer

NETLFIX’S EXPLOSIVE DOCUMENTARY SERIES Making a Murderer pits police and prosecutors, who seem hell-bent on convicting a man of murder, against a pair of valiant defense attorneys. The 10-part series follows the 2007 murder trial of Steven Avery in Wisconsin. He had recently been exonerated after serving 18 years in prison for a rape that DNA evidence later attributed to another man. Amid the legal battle, viewers also get a glimpse of a rather offputting supporting character: the press.

Read the full article here. (Columbia Journalism Review)

For journalists fleeing Islamic State, Turkey ‘is as dangerous as Syria’

For the past two years, activists and journalists seeking refuge from Islamic State repression in Raqqa would take sanctuary across the border in southern Turkey, setting up safe houses and offices, and darting back to Syria regularly with camera equipment and other vital supplies. But that sanctuary is now under threat.

Read the full article here. (Committee to Protect Journalists)

Does a focus on audience metrics inevitably lead to clickbait?

With competition among digital publishers as fierce as it’s ever been, it’s no surprise that each is trying everything it can to expand their audiences. Over the past few months TheMediaBriefing has been closely following reports that Trinity Mirror was setting their journalists individual online traffic targets – and the inevitable debate that followed.

Read the full article here (TheMediaBriefing)

IFJ women move forward struggle for gender equality

The IFJ Gender Council held on 9 January its statutory mid-term conference on the theme Gender and Media: Women Taking the Lead, hosted by the IFJ member union, the Syndicat national de la presse marocaine, at its newly inaugurated Maison de la presse in Tangier, Morocco.

Read the full article here. (IFJ)

Refugees in Germany launch paper for fellow newcomers

A group of volunteer refugees have founded Abwab, an Arabic newspaper with helpful information and stories of hope.

Read the full story here. (Al Jazeera)



You can read the individual chapters of the report here:

The View from Brussels: Missed opportunities to call the European Union to account

Bulgaria – A study in media Sensationalism

Italy – A charter for tolerant journalism: Media take centre stage in the Mediterranean drama

Turkey – Media under the government’s thumb and migrants in a legislative limbo

United Kingdom – How journalism plays follow-my-leader in the rhetoric of negativity

Australia – In a nation of migrants the media faces its own identity crisis

Brazil – Where politics takes precedence over the people who make it

China – An inside story: China’s invisible and ignored migrant workforce

West Africa: The Gambia – Desperate young take the backway to an uncertain future

India – How missing facts and context is toxic for media coverage

Lebanon – Lebanon’s media put humanity in the mix as the refugee crisis takes hold

Mexico – Shallow journalism in a land where political bias rules the newsroom

Nepal – Information gaps fail to keep track of a country on the move

South Africa – Compelling tales of afrophobia and media selective blindness

United States – The Trump Card: How US news media dealt with a migrant hate manifesto



It has been a testing year for journalism. It began with 10 journalists and cartoonists among those killed byterrorists in the unconscionable massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Within hours the EJN published an article advising journalists to defend free speech but also to lower the temperature, to eliminate hate speech and to avoid encouraging acts of revenge or abuse of Muslims. We called for “slow journalism” and for newsrooms to think carefully about how to handle the story.

The Paris events triggered much talk in media circles over free speech, self-censorship and ethical responsibility. And the EJN was at the centre of this debate. We published a second article urging journalists to rely on their codes and editorial traditions when reporting terrorism, to avoid propaganda traps set by media-savvy extremists and, above all, to tell the story with humanity.

Read the EJN director’s full report here.

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