Georgia TV cameraman dies after beating by far-right mob

Police officers block counter protesters during a rally in support of those who were injured during the July 5 protests, when a pride march was disrupted by members of violent groups, in Tbilisi on July 6, 2021. (File/AFP)
Police officers block counter protesters during a rally in support of those who were injured during the July 5 protests, when a pride march was disrupted by members of violent groups, in Tbilisi on July 6, 2021. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 11 July 2021

Georgia TV cameraman dies after beating by far-right mob

Police officers block counter protesters during a rally in support of those who were injured during the July 5 protests, when a pride march was disrupted by members of violent groups, in Tbilisi on July 6, 2021. (File/AFP)
  • More than 50 journalists were attacked that day by far-right groups protesting the planned march, which was canceled over safety fears
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the attacks

TBLISI: A Georgian TV cameraman has died after being badly beaten by far-right assailants during a protest against an LGBTQ Pride march, his station said Sunday, as pressure mounted on authorities over attacks on journalists.
Alexander Lashkarava, a 37-year-old cameraman working for independent TV station Pirveli, was found dead in his bed in the early hours on Sunday, the channel reported.
On Monday, he was assaulted by a violent mob of anti-LGBTQ protesters and sustained fractures to his facial bones.
More than 50 journalists were attacked that day by anti-LGBTQ groups protesting the planned Pride march, which was canceled over safety fears.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the attacks, saying journalists “sustained injuries that included concussion, chemical burns and broken arms.”
It accused authorities of “culpable passivity” and said police had failed to protect journalists.
Georgia’s interior ministry said in a brief statement on Sunday that an investigation had been opened into Lashkarava’s death.
Rights activists announced a protest rally later Sunday to demand Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s resignation following the death.
Prominent Georgian TV personalities and managers have accused Garibashvili’s government of orchestrating a violent campaign against journalists.
“The government not only encourages violence against journalists, it is part of the violence,” Nodar Meladze, TV Pirveli’s news editor, told AFP.
“The government has set up violent groups to attack independent media,” he said adding that “riot police have also repeatedly targeted journalists.”
In June 2019, riot police injured some 40 journalists covering an anti-government protest.
Garibashvili has faced strong criticism from the opposition and rights activists after he spoke out against holding the Pride march, describing it as “unacceptable for a large segment of Georgian society.”
Critics have accused the ruling Georgian Dream of tacitly supporting homophobic and nationalist groups, who have also staged protests against pro-Western opposition parties.


‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour

‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour
Updated 30 June 2022

‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour

‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour
  • Zeghidour laments the sorry state of journalism in the Arab world

RIYADH: Earlier this month, the French embassy in Saudi Arabia held a conference titled “France and the Arab World — From Charlemagne to the Fifth Republic” hosted by Slimane Zeghidour.

Zeghidour, an expert in regional affairs, is the editor-in-chief of French television network TV Monde, and a researcher at the French Institute of International and Strategic Research specializing in the Maghreb and Middle East region.

He spoke to Arab News en Francais during his visit to the Saudi capital, expressing his frustration with the lack of communication from the Kingdom and the state of journalism in the Arab world. 

Zeghidour’s first visit to Saudi Arabia was in 1987, 35 years ago, when he was visiting to write a book and a geopolitical essay.

A lot has changed since then. “Some transformations were unimaginable just five years ago,” he said. There are new events happening in the Kingdom, some rather “daring,” but “we (journalists) are not aware,” he added.

For example, Zeghidour learnt about a symposium on tolerance when it was already over.

Although TV5 Monde does not have a broadcast station in the Middle East, its channel Maghreb-Orient is dedicated to the region’s shows, movies and documentaries subtitled in Arabic. 

“It is through this pillar that we exist and try to exist in the Arab world,” Zeghidour said, drawing attention to countries such as Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, where French is the unofficial primary language. 

A veteran reporter for 25 years, Zeghidour has covered the first and second Intifadas, as well as wars in Sudan, Iraq and Algeria, among others. Never has he seen an Arab reporter working for an Arab newspaper on-site. “The only Arab journalists or those of Arab-origins that I met, worked for The Guardian and The New York Times.”

Investigative journalism in the Arab world is a near fallacy, according to Zeghidour, who said: “We do not recognize the right of a journalist in asking questions, although that is what their job consists of. It (their job) is not to give answers. They must first ask the right questions.”

He added: “The press, the power and the authority of each country must evolve. This mutual development must generate mutual trust and respect.”

Moreover, he believes that “in Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession.” Journalists usually get their information from their contacts and there is “no extensive work or in-depth investigation on the ground in the country or abroad,” he added.

It is imperative to train investigative journalists in the Arab world, who can tell stories — not just rehash stories from news wires.

“Even in the most important and oldest Arab newspapers, the articles are simply a synthesis of international stories, or reflections and digressions on current events,” Zeghidour said. “As long as this persists, the Arab public will seek information about themselves, their situation, their daily life and their country in the international press.”

It is partly why he is unsurprised that over half (61 percent) of Arab youth get their news from social media, according to the Arab Youth Survey 2021. He also attributes the popularity of social media as a source of news to the confirmation bias people have. 

“The result of this poll is not surprising since most people are only looking for information that supports their own beliefs,” he said. “It (social media) doesn’t teach them anything new; it only reinforces what they already know.”


Journalist murdered in Mexico, 12th this year

Journalist murdered in Mexico, 12th this year
Updated 30 June 2022

Journalist murdered in Mexico, 12th this year

Journalist murdered in Mexico, 12th this year
  • De la Cruz, who had been a journalist for 15 years, was also a spokesman for a political party, Movimiento Ciudadano.
  • More than 150 journalists have been murdered since 2000 in Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media

CIUDAD VICTORIA: A Mexican reporter was shot dead on Wednesday in the violence-plagued northeastern state of Tamaulipas — the 12th journalist killed so far in a particularly bloody year for the country’s press.
Antonio de la Cruz, who worked for the newspaper Expreso, had frequently denounced alleged acts of corruption by politicians in his posts on social media.
His wife and daughter were injured in the attack, which took place as the reporter was leaving his home in Ciudad Victoria.
“We must not allow more attacks on journalists and activists. These crimes will not go unpunished,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s spokesman, Jesus Ramirez, tweeted.
Expreso demanded “justice from authorities at all levels.”
In 2018, another one of the newspaper’s journalists, Hector Gonzalez, was beaten to death.
This year is already one of the deadliest yet for the Mexican press, prompting calls for an end to a culture of impunity.
“The prevailing impunity in the murders of journalists has become an effective weapon for criminals,” said Jorge Canahuati, president of the Inter American Press Association.
Doctors were fighting to save the life of De la Cruz’s daughter, State Governor Francisco Cabeza de Vaca said, urging prosecutors to ensure “that this cowardly crime does not go unpunished.”


De la Cruz, who had been a journalist for 15 years, was also a spokesman for a political party, Movimiento Ciudadano.
Gustavo Cardenas, a state legislator for the party, described De la Cruz as “a family man, a good man” who had sought to expose alleged corruption by local authorities.
“The main suspects are in the state government... I have not the slightest doubt that a significant responsibility falls on these men,” he said.
Media rights group Reporters Without Borders urged authorities to carry out “a prompt investigation” into the murder and whether it was linked to De la Cruz’s journalistic work.
The Tamaulipas prosecutor’s office confirmed the murder and said that it was investigating the case under protocols for dealing with crimes against freedom of expression.
More than 150 journalists have been murdered since 2000 in Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media, with only a fraction of the crimes resulting in convictions.
The United States and the European Parliament have urged Mexico to ensure adequate protection for journalists following the recent string of killings.
Lopez Obrador has vowed “zero impunity” for the crimes.
Before de la Cruz’s murder, the government had considered that nine of this year’s victims were killed because of their media work.
It has reported the detention of 26 suspects in the murders, nine of whom have been formally charged.
Tamaulipas is one of the Mexican states most affected by violence involving drug cartels, which have repeatedly tried to silence the press with attacks, according to rights groups.
In 2012 a car bomb exploded in front of Expreso’s offices, although nobody was injured.
In 2018, a human head was left outside its offices.


A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores
Updated 30 June 2022

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: A Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission has urged the chief executives of Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc’s Google to kick Chinese-owned TikTok out of its app stores.
Brendan Carr, the FCC commissioner, said in a letter to the CEOs, dated June 24 and sent on FCC letterhead, that video-sharing app TikTok has collected vast troves of sensitive data about US users that could be accessed by ByteDance staff in Beijing. ByteDance is TikTok’s Chinese parent.
Carr tweeted details of the letter on Tuesday.
“TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” Carr said on Twitter. “It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”
Carr asked the companies to either remove TikTok from their app stores by July 8 or explain to him why they did not plan to do so.
Carr’s request is unusual given that the FCC does not have clear jurisdiction over the content of app stores. The FCC regulates the national security space usually through its authority to grant certain communications licenses to companies.

A TikTok spokeswoman said the company’s engineers in locations outside of the United States, including China, can be granted access to US user data “on an as-needed basis” and under “strict controls.”
Google declined comment on Carr’s letter, while Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
TikTok has been under US regulatory scrutiny over its collection of US personal data. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks, ordered ByteDance in 2020 to divest TikTok because of fears that US user data could be passed on to China’s communist government.
To address these concerns, TikTok said earlier this month that it migrated the information of its US users to servers at Oracle Corp.
A spokesperson for the US Department of the Treasury, which chairs CFIUS, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“What we’re seeing here from Commissioner Carr is a suggestion that at least some parts of the US government don’t think that this is enough,” Richard Sofield, a national security partner at law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP, said about TikTok’s partnership with Oracle. 


US newspapers continuing to die at rate of 2 each week

US newspapers continuing to die at rate of 2 each week
Updated 30 June 2022

US newspapers continuing to die at rate of 2 each week

US newspapers continuing to die at rate of 2 each week

NEW YORK: Despite a growing recognition of the problem, the United States continues to see newspapers die at the rate of two per week, according to a report issued Wednesday on the state of local news.
Areas of the country that find themselves without a reliable source of local news tend to be poorer, older and less educated than those covered well, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications said.
The country had 6,377 newspapers at the end of May, down from 8,891 in 2005, the report said. While the pandemic didn’t quite cause the reckoning that some in the industry feared, 360 newspapers have shut down since the end of 2019, all but 24 of them weeklies serving small communities.
An estimated 75,000 journalists worked in newspapers in 2006, and now that’s down to 31,000, Northwestern said. Annual newspaper revenue slipped from $50 billion to $21 billion in the same period.
Even though philanthropists and politicians have been paying more attention to the issue, the factors that drove the collapse of the industry’s advertising model haven’t changed. Encouraging growth in the digital-only news sector in recent years hasn’t been enough to compensate for the overall trends, said Penelope Muse Abernathy, visiting professor at Medill and the report’s principal author.
Many of the digital-only sites are focused on single issues and are clustered in or close to big cities near the philanthropic money that provides much of their funding, the report said.
News “deserts” are growing: The report estimated that some 70 million Americans live in a county with either no local news organization or only one.
“What’s really at stake in that is our own democracy, as well as our social and societal cohesion,” Abernathy said.
True “daily” newspapers that are printed and distributed seven days a week are also dwindling; The report said 40 of the largest 100 newspapers in the country publish only- digital versions at least once a week. Inflation is likely to hasten a switch away from printed editions, said Tim Franklin, director of the Medill Local News Initiative.
Much of the industry churn is driven by the growth in newspaper chains, including new regional chains that have bought hundreds of newspapers in small or mid-sized markets, the report said.
Less than a third of the country’s 5,147 weekly newspapers and a dozen of 150 city and regional daily papers are now locally-owned and operated, Medill said.
Abernathy’s report pointed to a handful of “local heroes” to counter the pessimism that the raw numbers provide. One is Sharon Burton, publisher and editor of the Adair County Community Voice in Kentucky, where she pushes her staff toward aggressive journalism while also successfully lobbying to expand postal subsidies for rural newspapers.


The Marketing Society launches gender equality program

The Marketing Society launches gender equality program
Updated 29 June 2022

The Marketing Society launches gender equality program

The Marketing Society launches gender equality program
  • Program aims to have equal female representation on industry panels and in mid to high-level roles

DUBAI: Industry body The Marketing Society announced its first gender equality program in the region, titled “Gender Equality Acceleration,” at an event held at the TikTok lounge in Dubai.

The event was attended by over 75 senior marketers and their teams.

The Gender Equality Acceleration Program aims to break barriers by increasing gender equality at mid and high levels of management in the marketing and communications industry across the UAE and the wider Gulf region.

“This initiative not only better educates both genders on how to find their voice to ensure there are equal opportunities at senior levels in all organizations, but, more importantly, provides an essential support network to build the self-belief of many women, giving them the strength to truly believe they deserve the recognition of a leadership role,” said Abby Lyons, co-founder and managing partner of House of Comms.

A key focus of this project is to make an actual impact — not just talk about gender equality without any real change. In order to achieve this, The Marketing Society will hold training, events, mentoring, policy changes, and other decisive actions to bring about real change.

For example, the body will work closely with different conference producers and event organizers to support them in having equal representation on panels by creating an accessible speaker directory that spotlights female experts in the industry. The goal is to have half of all speakers be women on panels across the marketing and communications industry by 2023.

The Marketing Society will also organize and host identified training and masterclasses with over 50 women by December 2022, and share best practices to inspire and empower businesses of all sizes to launch and follow the initiative.

Mohammed Ismaeel Hameedaldin, partner at Toughlove Advisors and chair of The Marketing Society Dubai, said: “Marketers are changemakers within businesses who can make an impact and make a difference.”

He added: “The time for talk is over, it’s about action and we look forward to supporting this through our planned activities and engaging the whole industry to speed up change.”

The Marketing Society is a global community that strives for a more diverse and inclusive leadership to shape, support, and steer the region’s top marketers. It is looking for more partners to join this initiative and work alongside the program’s founding partner, TikTok.