Julian Assange is the head of WikiLeaks and faces a harsh prison sentence in the USA if he were to be extradited from Britain. He released over 750,000 documents which showed corruption and human rights abuse at the hands of the American government in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as at the prison camp on Guantánamo. The documents were given to him by private Chelsea Manning, who was arrested in 2010 and served 7 years in prison. Just yesterday, a British court decided against extraditing Assange, on the grounds of his mental health. Edward Snowden is a former contractor for the National Security Agency who in 2013 transmitted to journalists 1.7 million classified documents detailing NSA online surveillance of American citizens. He was charged under the Espionage Act, but gained asylum in Russia.
So, are these people heroes or criminals? How crucial is it for a democracy to have whistleblowers? And where is the line between warning the public and exposing wrongs on the one side and breaking the law and putting your country at risk on the other? What is more important, freedom of speech and the right to privacy, or loyalty to your employer and country? And what costs does this come with for the individual who has to make that choice?
A court sketch of Julian Assange at the Old Bailey in London for the ruling in his extradition case on Monday, January 4, 2021.
Press freedom and journalistic independence are values that democratic societies cherish. Unfortunately, too many countries do not respect these values. Today we will look at press freedom in the world. Each group will be allotted a country. Spend the rest of the lesson doing research on this country’s treatment of the media, and condition and status of free press.
In the groups make a Prezi or Google presentation of media usage in the country you have been researching. Use the websites Reporters Without Borders (https://rsf.org/en and https://rsf.org/en/ranking) and Committee to Protect Journalists (https://cpj.org/). You may use other sources as well. If you come across specific stories about journalists/bloggers/ others who have somehow been punished for their involvement in and use of media, tell us! Be ready to present your findings at 14:00 today.
Group Erika: Hong Kong
Group William: Brazil
Group Victoria: Russia
Group Verner: Egypt
Group Dejen: India
Group Øystein: South Africa
do they have a free press or any kind of censorship? Why/why not?
do they have state media or not? What could be the importance of this?
What are the biggest newsproviding media in this country?
Who owns these media?
How many use these?
Are they politically minded – liberal, conservative etc? If so, how is this seen?
Find at least two of the biggest newsproviding media in this country and look at their frontpages: compare headlines, choice of causes, focus, read a story from each and comment on the journalism. Also, find them on social media; check out their Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram account. How are they on social media? Many followers? What kind of profile do they have here? What kind of cases are their fronting on their social media?
How has president Trump met the Covid-19 pandemic? Fox reports that his vice president could not have been more proud, Alternet repeats allegations of him being a mass murderer, while the New York Times asks questions. How can the same issue cause so different “truths?” And what is true?
Keeping the five C’s in mind (context, credibility, corroboration, construction and compare) – visit the three links above and read/watch how the different news outlets respond to how Trump has handled the pandemic.
Then, use the post-its you have been given to answer the questions below. One post it per answer, and then put up your post its around the classroom.
how do the different articles portray Trump’s reaction to the pandemic?
What adjectives/loaded words are used in the different articles?
Can you tell which article is more liberal and which is more conservative? How
Which of the articles were easiest to read? Why?
Which of the articles do you find most believable? Why?
Discuss what they tell you about the issues of migration and refugees. What thoughts do these texts provoke in you?
Warshan Shire has said it is important to her to “tell the stories of those people, especially refugees and immigrants, that otherwise wouldn’t be told, or told inaccurately.” What do you think she means by this? Does she succeed in doing so with her poem? Give examples from the text. Can you find similar examples from the other text you read?
4. Immigrant Posters: Discuss these posters and the message they send:
Watch this 15-minute video produced by the Guardian and read this article from the same news source detailing how some indigenous peoples experience changes to their culture due to effects of climate changes.
What challenges and benefits do the people on Greenland experience because of climate changes? And while Aboriginal Australians may have the same core problem, given their vastly different physiography the effects are even more devastating. Add governmental obstructions, for instance when it comes to infrastructure, into the equation, and it is hard to see any benefits from climate changes like the Greenlanders do. So what challenges do the people of Australia’s Northern Territory face because of climate changes?
Kew scientists have officially given 110 new species scientific names in the course of 2019, this Guardian article reveals. Among these 102 plants and eight fungi are species that can change medicine. One has the ability to trick our taste buds. Another has been used for centuries to treat arthritis. It has only this year been given a formal scientific name, and seems also to have abilities to combat cancer.
According to the article, “[t]here are almost 400,000 known species of plant, and about 2,000 new species are named every year”. Yet with their habitats being under threat due to a variety of dangers, the world is at risk of losing them before the species are even discovered, registered, named, or measures being taken to protect them.
Reflecting on all the undiscovered species still out there and all the potential they hold, particularly within medicine, should we not do more to protect them from becoming extinct? Should we not rage against the forest fires raging in several parts of the world, whether or not the destruction is deliberate? Should we not protest dam projects that could potentially wipe out an entire species? Should we not reflect around our own and our governments’ values and actions (or inaction), in the hopes of preserving nature?
Time Person of the Year is annually awarded to the person who “for better or worse […] has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Could there be a more deserving winner for 2019 than Greta Thunberg? Time Magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said in his announcement: “She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement.”