Stabbed Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati said ‘feeling much better but recovery takes time’

Stabbed Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati said ‘feeling much better but recovery takes time’
Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati was stabbed by three men and hospitalized with injuries to his leg. (X: @pouriazeraati)
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Updated 16 April 2024
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Stabbed Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati said ‘feeling much better but recovery takes time’

Stabbed Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati said ‘feeling much better but recovery takes time’
  • Iran International presenter talked to BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday about the attack outside his home

LONDON: Stabbed Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati said Tuesday he was “feeling much better” but he is still far from fully recovering.

The Iran International presenter spoke to BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program about the attack and the toll it has taken on his life.

“I’m feeling much better physically, but as you know, mental recovery takes time,” Zeraati said, adding that “the show must go on”.

The journalist was attacked late last month outside his home in south London. He was stabbed by three men and hospitalized with injuries to his leg.

Recalling the moment of the assault, Zeraati told BBC Radio 4 that he was going to his car to head to the studio when a “suspicious” looking man approached him and asked for some change.

“He pretended to be asking for change, as I was saying, ‘excuse me I don’t have any change,’ and I was going to unlock the door, the second man approached,” he said.

“They grabbed me from the front, very strong, I couldn’t move my hands” before one of the attackers stabbed him in the leg.

The pair immediately fled in a car that was waiting to drive them to Heathrow Airport.

“I just noticed all my belongings are with me, including my mobile phones, my watch, my AirPods, my wallet with cash in it, so the moment I just saw everything is with me, I noticed this is regarding my job, because it wasn’t a robbery,” he told “Today.”

He was taken to the hospital shortly after and later discharged. He is currently staying in a safe place under police supervision.

The Metropolitan Police said the suspects had left the UK but are still investigating the reason behind the attack.

Staff of Iran International have previously been targeted by threats linked to the Iranian regime, and the dissident broadcast had been listed as a terrorist organization in Iran for its coverage of Iran’s 2022 uprising.

Iran’s charge d’affaires in the UK, which serves as the head of its diplomatic mission, has denied any link between the Iranian regime and the attack on Zeraati.

The journalist returned to work earlier this month as a way to “send the message back”.

“I’m here, the show is going on, and my audience is still watching this show,” Zeraati said.


The Washington Post’s leaders are taking heat for journalism in Britain that wouldn’t fly in the US

The Washington Post’s leaders are taking heat for journalism in Britain that wouldn’t fly in the US
Updated 18 June 2024
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The Washington Post’s leaders are taking heat for journalism in Britain that wouldn’t fly in the US

The Washington Post’s leaders are taking heat for journalism in Britain that wouldn’t fly in the US
  • The coverage revealed Lewis’ sensitivity about questions involving his role in a phone hacking scandal in the UK

NEW YORK: New leaders of The Washington Post are being haunted by their pasts, with ethical questions raised about their actions as journalists in London that illustrate very different press traditions in the United States and England.
An extraordinary trio of stories over the weekend by The New York Times, NPR and the Post itself outline alleged involvement by Post publisher Will Lewis and Robert Winnett, his choice as a new editor, in wrongdoing involving London publications as much as two decades ago.
The Post said on Monday that it had brought back its former senior managing editor to oversee the newspaper’s coverage of the matter.
Lewis took over as publisher earlier this year, with a mandate to turn around the financially-troubled newspaper. He announced a reorganization earlier this month where the Post’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, stepped down rather than accept a demotion.
The coverage revealed Lewis’ sensitivity about questions involving his role in a phone hacking scandal that rocked the British press while he was working there. Lewis has maintained that he was brought in by Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers to cooperate with authorities to clean up after the scandal. Plaintiffs in a civil case have charged him with destroying evidence, which he has denied.
Differences between US and British journalism — some of them big
The public revelation of phone hacking in 2011 led to the closure of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid and sparked a public inquiry into press practices that curbed some of the worst excesses.
The British press has long been considered freewheeling in its pursuit of scoops, willing to tolerate behavior frowned upon by its American counterparts. For example, when Lewis and Winnett worked at The Daily Telegraph in 2009, they cooperated on stories about politicians’ extravagant expense-account spending. They paid for data that revealed the spending, a reporting practice that would be considered a substantial ethical breach in the US
The Times reported on Saturday that both Lewis and Winnett worked on stories in the 2000s that appeared to be based on fraudulently obtained phone and business records.
Both the Times and Post reported on a 2002 story article about British politicians who had sought to buy a Mercedes-Benz vehicle described as the “Nazi’s favorite limousine,” based on information obtained by an actor who had faked a German accent to call a manufacturer who gave it to him.
The Post story delved into Winnett’s relationship with John Ford, the actor whose “clandestine efforts” helped uncover stories that included private financial dealings by former Prime Minister Tony Blair. He was allegedly adept in “blagging,” in which a person misrepresents themselves to persuade others to reveal confidential information. That’s illegal under British law unless it can be shown the actions benefit the public.
Headlined “Incoming Post editor tied to self-described ‘thief’ who claimed role in his reporting,” it was among the newspaper’s most popular stories on Monday. Winnett was chosen by Lewis to take over the Post’s main newsroom after the presidential election.
It was an unusually harsh story for a news organization to write about its own leadership. In announcing that Cameron Barr, who left his position last year, would supervise the reporting, the Post said that “the publisher has no involvement or influence on our reporting.” Other editors, including Buzbee’s temporary replacement Matt Murray, will also look over stories produced by the media team.
NPR’s story details several of these issues, along with Winnett’s supervision — when he worked at the Sunday Times in London — of a reporter, Claire Newell, who was hired as a temporary secretary in the UK Cabinet office, giving her access to sensitive documents that made their way back to the newspaper.
Is this an ‘unrecoverable’ situation for Post leadership?
The Post said Lewis declined comment on the stories. Winnett, a deputy editor at the Telegraph in London, did not comment on the three most recent stories, and a message to the newspaper by The Associated Press was not immediately returned on Monday.
Similarly silent: Jeff Bezos, the billionaire owner of the Post, who will ultimately decide whether this is a public relations and internal morale storm that he and the institution can weather.
Not everyone is sure that he can, or should.
“The Washington Post is a great, great, great paper, and its greatness pushes the rest of us in the media world to do a better job,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote on X Monday. “Yet its leadership is now tainted in ways that are unrecoverable; time won’t heal the injury but let it fester.”
Lewis, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal who is also vice chairman of the board at The Associated Press, has spent the past week trying to assure Post staff members that he understands and will live up to the ethical standards of American journalism.


Saudi Tourism Authority makes Cannes Lions debut to promote new spirit of creativity in country

Saudi Tourism Authority makes Cannes Lions debut to promote new spirit of creativity in country
Updated 17 June 2024
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Saudi Tourism Authority makes Cannes Lions debut to promote new spirit of creativity in country

Saudi Tourism Authority makes Cannes Lions debut to promote new spirit of creativity in country
  • Organization’s CEO, Fahd Hamidaddin highlights potential for the creative sector to be a key driver of tourism in the Kingdom
  • He issues open invitation for international collaborators to work with authorities to create award-worthy work

LONDON: The Saudi Tourism Authority on Monday made its debut at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where it is promoting the Kingdom’s burgeoning creative sector as a key driver of tourism.

Fahd Hamidaddin, the organization’s CEO, said authorities in the country are committed to placing creativity and innovation at the forefront of their plans for diversification of the national economy. He also emphasized the role the industry can play in shaping global perceptions of Saudi Arabia and promoting recent dramatic changes in the Kingdom.

“Storytelling is something that Arabia has always cherished and creativity is the beacon of our future; it’s the beauty of imagination meeting innovation,” Hamidaddin said during his keynote speech on the opening day of the five-day event in France.

“We are experiencing a transformation which takes Saudi (Arabia) from being oil-dependent to becoming a fully diversified, hyper-growth economy that sits at the center of the world, economically, socially and creatively as well.”

He highlighted various cultural developments and advances that have taken place in the Kingdom over the past few years as testaments to the country’s growing ambitions on the world stage, including art exhibitions and a burgeoning entertainment scene, with the country submitting entries to the Oscars and the Cannes Film Festival.

Hamidaddin noted the growing number of creators, home-grown and from other countries, who are contributing to the development of the sector in the Kingdom and extended an open invitation for more collaborators to explore opportunities to work with Saudi authorities and create award-winning work worthy of recognition by the Cannes Lions festival.

“If you think you know Saudi, think again,” he said. “Even Saudis don’t recognize it amid the changes and transformations happening every day.”

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity began on June 17 and continues until June 21.


German authorities remove education undersecretary over pro-Palestine sanctions

German authorities remove education undersecretary over pro-Palestine sanctions
Updated 17 June 2024
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German authorities remove education undersecretary over pro-Palestine sanctions

German authorities remove education undersecretary over pro-Palestine sanctions
  • Sabine Doring dismissed after trying to sanction scholars supporting protests

LONDON: German authorities have dismissed Sabine Doring, the undersecretary responsible for higher education, for attempting to impose financial sanctions on academics supporting students protesting against Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

The decision, announced on Sunday, follows days of pressure on Education and Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger from thousands of academics.

“In May of this year, a group of university lecturers wrote an open letter regarding the protest camps at universities. This is a legitimate part of debate and freedom of thought. Having a different opinion is equally natural,” Stark-Watzinger said.

She affirmed that academic freedom was protected under constitutional law, adding: “I defend academic freedom in all its aspects. Funding for science is based on scientific criteria, not political ideology. This is a fundamental principle of academic freedom.”

Stark-Watzinger had faced intense criticism and calls for her resignation after media reports revealed that her office launched a legal review to explore sanctions against academics who supported protesting students, including the potential revocation of their funding.

“Academics in Germany are experiencing an unprecedented attack on their fundamental rights, on the 75th anniversary of the Basic Law,” more than 2,000 scholars said in an open letter on Friday.

The letter added: “Regardless of whether we agree with the specific demands of the protest camp, we stand up for our students, and defend their right to peaceful protest, which also includes the occupation of university grounds.”


Tobacco-like warning label for social media sought by US surgeon general who asks Congress to act

Tobacco-like warning label for social media sought by US surgeon general who asks Congress to act
Updated 17 June 2024
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Tobacco-like warning label for social media sought by US surgeon general who asks Congress to act

Tobacco-like warning label for social media sought by US surgeon general who asks Congress to act
  • Dr. Vivek Murthy said that social media is a contributing factor in the mental health crisis among young people

WASHINGTON DC: The US surgeon general has called on Congress to require warning labels on social media platforms similar to those now mandatory on cigarette boxes.
In a Monday opinion piece in the The New York Times, Dr. Vivek Murthy said that social media is a contributing factor in the mental health crisis among young people.
“It is time to require a surgeon general’s warning label on social media platforms, stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents. A surgeon general’s warning label, which requires congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe,” Murthy said. “Evidence from tobacco studies show that warning labels can increase awareness and change behavior.”
Murthy said that the use of just a warning label wouldn’t make social media safe for young people, but would be a part of the steps needed.
Social media use is prevalent among young people, with up to 95 percent of youth ages 13 to 17 saying that they use a social media platform, and more than a third saying that they use social media “almost constantly,” according to 2022 data from the Pew Research Center.
“Social media today is like tobacco decades ago: It’s a product whose business model depends on addicting kids. And as with cigarettes, a surgeon general’s warning label is a critical step toward mitigating the threat to children,” Josh Golin, executive director at Fairplay, an organization that is dedicated to ending marketing to children, said in a statement.
Last year Murthy warned that there wasn’t enough evidence to show that social media is safe for children and teens. He said at the time that policymakers needed to address the harms of social media the same way they regulate things like car seats, baby formula, medication and other products children use.
To comply with federal regulation, social media companies already ban kids under 13 from signing up for their platforms — but children have been shown to easily get around the bans, both with and without their parents’ consent.
Other measures social platforms have taken to address concerns about children’s mental health can also be easily circumvented. For instance, TikTok introduced a default 60-minute time limit for users under 18. But once the limit is reached, minors can simply enter a passcode to keep watching.
Murthy believes the impact of social media on young people should be a more pressing concern.
“Why is it that we have failed to respond to the harms of social media when they are no less urgent or widespread than those posed by unsafe cars, planes or food? These harms are not a failure of willpower and parenting; they are the consequence of unleashing powerful technology without adequate safety measures, transparency or accountability,” he wrote.
In January the CEOs of Meta, TikTok, X and other social media companies went before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify as parents worry that they’re not doing enough to protect young people. The executives touted existing safety tools on their platforms and the work they’ve done with nonprofits and law enforcement to protect minors.
Murthy said Monday that Congress needs to implement legislation that will protect young people from online harassment, abuse and exploitation and from exposure to extreme violence and sexual content.
“The measures should prevent platforms from collecting sensitive data from children and should restrict the use of features like push notifications, autoplay and infinite scroll, which prey on developing brains and contribute to excessive use,” Murthy wrote.
Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal supported Murthy’s message Monday.
“We are pleased that the Surgeon General — America’s top doctor — continues to bring attention to the harmful impact that social media has on our children,” the senators said in a prepared statement.
The surgeon general is also recommending that companies be required to share all their data on health effects with independent scientists and the public, which they currently don’t do, and allow independent safety audits.
Murthy said schools and parents also need to participate in providing phone-free times and that doctors, nurses and other clinicians should help guide families toward safer practices.
While Murthy pushes for more to be done about social media in the United States, the European Union enacted groundbreaking new digital rules last year. The Digital Services Act is part of a suite of tech-focused regulations crafted by the 27-nation bloc — long a global leader in cracking down on tech giants.
The DSA is designed to keep users safe online and make it much harder to spread content that’s either illegal, like hate speech or child sexual abuse, or violates a platform’s terms of service. It also looks to protect citizens’ fundamental rights such as privacy and free speech.
Officials have warned tech companies that violations could bring fines worth up to 6 percent of their global revenue — which could amount to billions — or even a ban from the EU.


Global audiences suspicious of AI-powered newsrooms, report finds

Global audiences suspicious of AI-powered newsrooms, report finds
Updated 17 June 2024
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Global audiences suspicious of AI-powered newsrooms, report finds

Global audiences suspicious of AI-powered newsrooms, report finds
  • Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that people are suspicious of AI creating news content, especially on sensitive subjects like politics
  • Survey also highlights the increasing role of news influencers, stressing the need for better audience engagement within newsrooms

LONDON: Global concerns about the use of AI in news production and misinformation are growing, a report published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found, posing fresh challenges to newsrooms already struggling to engage audiences.
The institute’s annual Digital News Report published on Monday, which this year is based on surveys of nearly 100,000 people across 47 countries, offers a picture of the hurdles news media faces in lifting revenue and sustaining business.
Newsrooms globally are working to address a new challenge with generative artificial intelligence, as tech giants and startups like Google and OpenAI build tools that can offer summaries of information and siphon traffic from news websites.
But the report found that consumers are suspicious about the use of AI to create news content, particularly for sensitive subjects such as politics.
According to the survey, 52 percent of US respondents and 63 percent of UK respondents said they would be uncomfortable with news produced mostly with AI. The report surveyed 2,000 people in each country, noting that respondents were more comfortable with behind-the-scenes uses of AI to make journalists’ work more efficient.
“It was surprising to see the level of suspicion,” said Nic Newman, senior research associate at the Reuters Institute and lead author of the Digital News Report. “People broadly had fears about what might happen to content reliability and trust.”
Concerns about false news content online rose by three percentage points from last year, with 59 percent of survey respondents saying they were worried. This figure was higher in South Africa and the US at 81 percent and 72 percent, respectively, as both countries hold elections this year, the report said.
Another challenge facing news organizations is the general unwillingness of audiences to pay for news subscriptions. Following some growth during the pandemic, 17 percent of respondents across 20 countries said they paid for online news, a figure that has been unchanged for the past three years, the report said.
A significant proportion of news subscribers in the US were also likely to be paying discounted rates due to trials or promotions, with 46 percent paying less than the full price for their subscriptions.

TURNING TO ALTERNATIVES
News influencers are playing a bigger role than mainstream media organizations in delivering the news to users of popular online platforms like TikTok.
In a survey of more than 5,600 TikTok users who said they used the app for news, 57 percent said they mostly paid attention to individual personalities, versus 34 percent who said they mainly followed journalists or news brands.
The findings show that newsrooms need to build a direct relationship with their audiences while also “strategically using the platforms to connect with people who are trickier to reach, like younger audiences,” Newman said. “We see that these influencers have a bigger role on the platforms.”
Vitus “V” Spehar, a TikTok creator with 3.1 million followers, was one news personality cited by some of the survey respondents. Spehar has become known for their unique style of delivering the top headlines of the day while laying on the floor under their desk, which they previously told Reuters is intended to offer a more gentle perspective on current events and contrast with a traditional news anchor who sits at a desk.
The Digital News Report surveyed people in the US, UK, France, Argentina and Brazil, asking them to name up to three mainstream or alternative accounts they follow for the news.
The top 10 individuals cited by respondents in the US are most known for offering political commentary rather than original newsgathering, the report noted. These personalities included Tucker Carlson, a former Fox News anchor, Joe Rogan, who hosts the top podcast on Spotify and David Pakman, a progressive talk radio host.
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is funded by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Thomson Reuters.