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Global legal threats to journalism: Joel Simon addresses students at ACJ



Joel Simon, founding director of the Journalism Protection Initiative at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, delivered a lecture on ‘Global legal threats to journalism’ to the students of the Asian College of Journalism on July 14, Friday.

His lecture, based on a recent research titled ‘Weaponising the Law: Attacks on Media Freedom’ conducted with the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, highlighted the major legal threats to journalists across the world.  The report notes the widespread use of defamation laws, criminalizing criticism, using laws to safeguard national security and public order offences against journalists, filing multiple legal cases, and using non-speech crimes such as financial crimes, as some of the main ways used to repress media freedom. 

The report notes that these legal threats are used by a combination of actors such as governments and private actors, like businesses and politicians, to curtail press freedom and public interest journalism.

Mr. Simon noted that the change in communication technology, while breaking the collective monopoly of journalists to information, has resulted in a ‘slow and steady escalation’ in the repression of journalists worldwide.

In an interactive session with the students, Mr. Simon spoke about a ‘Safety curriculum for media students’ that he is currently developing at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.