Top Sky News Arabia editor slams harassment of TV crews at Al-Aqsa 

Updated 24 July 2017

Top Sky News Arabia editor slams harassment of TV crews at Al-Aqsa 

LONDON: A top Sky News Arabia editor has branded as “unacceptable” the harassment of his colleagues covering a weekend of violence around Al-Aqsa.
Video footage shows reporters being shoved out of the way by Israeli security forces during clashes with Palestinians. 
Clashes erupted in East Jerusalem’s Old City after Israel closed Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for the first time since 1969, following a gunbattle on July 14 that ended with the deaths of two Israeli police officers and three Palestinians. 
The site was closed for Friday prayers and reopened the following week with new security measures, including metal detectors and additional cameras.
Sky News Arabia television crews trying to cover the story say they were verbally and physically abused by security forces in different locations in East Jerusalem.
“Reporters are susceptible to this kind of treatment, but things definitely got out of hand,” said Omar Al-Issawi, chief editor for newsgathering at Sky News Arabia. “We’re not strangers to this kind of treatment as journalists, but it’s unacceptable.”
Israel says the cameras installed at the site outside Lions’ Gate are a necessary security measure, but Palestinians fear an attempt to increase control of the Muslim-administered site. They have launched mass prayer protests in response.
A spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) referred questions to the police. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Arab News that due to security measures, some areas around the site were closed to the public and journalists. “People were asked to move, and if they didn’t move they were removed,” he said.
Sky News Arabia reporter Nidal Kanaaneh was among journalists covering Lions’ Gate, and was allegedly verbally and physically abused by security forces and forced away from the area during a live broadcast.
His colleague Shireen Younes was reporting from Makassed Hospital, where the body of a Palestinian who had been shot was taken, when Israeli special forces allegedly arrived and assaulted people in an emergency room, including Younes and three other crew members.
“Journalists aren’t fair game,” said Al-Issawi, a veteran reporter and producer who has covered conflicts from Bosnia to Lebanon.
“They are there to perform their duties, and they should be afforded the due respect and protection of security forces when they’re out there doing their jobs.”

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also hit out at the treatment of reporters covering the weekend clashes in East Jerusalem.
“The IFJ had repeatedly criticized the Israeli government, army and police forces for their failure to respect the rights of Palestinian journalists to travel and cover news in occupied Palestine without fearing for their safety and liberty,” said Monir Zaarour, IFJ director of policy and programs for the Arab world and the Middle East.
“In the past they have been mistreated, beaten, equipment confiscated and even targeted by rubber bullets and stun grenades by Israeli security forces. Their treatment of the journalists covering the Palestinian civil demonstrations in Jerusalem and other cities in the West Bank last week was not different.”
He said the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) reported over 15 incidents in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ramallah in which journalists had either been assaulted or prevented from covering the news, including those working for Palestine TV, Sky News Arabia, Wafa and Maan.


YouTube steers viewers to climate denial videos: nonprofit

Updated 16 January 2020

YouTube steers viewers to climate denial videos: nonprofit

  • Avaaz said it scrutinized results of YouTube searches using the terms “global warming,” “climate change,” and “climate manipulation” to see what was offered by an “up next” feature
  • 16 percent of the top 100 videos served up in relation to the term “global warming” contained misinformation, it said

SAN FRANCISCO: YouTube has driven millions of viewers to climate denial videos, a US activist group said Thursday as it called for stopping “free promotion of misinformation” at the platform.
New York-based Avaaz said it scrutinized results of Google-owned YouTube searches using the terms “global warming,” “climate change,” and “climate manipulation” to see what was offered by an “up next” feature and as suggestions.
In response to the report, YouTube said it downplays “borderline” video content while spotlighting authoritative sources and displaying information boxes on searches related to climate change and other topics.
The video sharing platform has remained firm that while it removes content violating its policies against hate, violence and scams, it does not censor ideas expressed in accordance with its rules.
“Our recommendations systems are not designed to filter or demote videos or channels based on specific perspectives,” YouTube said in response to an AFP inquiry.
The company added that it has “significantly invested in reducing recommendations of borderline content and harmful misinformation, and raising up authoritative voices.”
According to Avaaz, 16 percent of the top 100 videos served up in relation to the term “global warming” contained misinformation, with the top 10 of those averaging more than a million views each.
The portion of potentially misleading videos climbed to 21 percent for YouTube searches on the term “climate manipulation” but fell to eight percent for searches using the term “climate change,” according to Avaaz.
“This is not about free speech, this is about the free advertising,” Avaaz senior campaigner Julie Deruy said in a release.
“YouTube is giving factually inaccurate videos that risk confusing people about one of the biggest crises of our time.”
An AFP search at YouTube using the term “global warming” yielded a results page topped by a box containing a Wikipedia summary of the subject and a link to the page at the online encyclopedia.
A list of suggested videos on the topic was dominated by sources such as National Geographic, NASA, TED and major news organizations including CBS, PBS, Sky News, and AFP.
Last year, consumption on “channels” of authoritative news publishers at the platform grew by 60 percent, according to YouTube.
“We prioritize authoritative voices for millions of news and information queries, and surface information panels on topics prone to misinformation — including climate change — to provide users with context alongside their content,” YouTube said.
Avaaz called on YouTube to yank climate change misinformation videos from its recommendation formula completely, and make certain such content doesn’t make money from ads at the platform.
The nonprofit also wants YouTube to collaborate with fact-checkers and post correction notices on videos with false climate change information.
YouTube automatically placed ads on some of the videos containing misinformation regarding climate change, making money for the service and the content creators, according to Avaaz.
This could apply to news videos expressing rival sides of the climate change debate. YouTube works with advertisers and provides tools to opt-out of having their ads displayed with certain types of content, such as climate change discourse.
Avaaz said after seeing the YouTube response that the company’s rankings lacked transparency and “put a blackbox around their algorithm preventing researchers and investigators from seeing exactly what is happening inside.”
“The bottom line is that YouTube should not feature, suggest, promote, advertise or lead users to misinformation,” Deruy said.