Another jailed Internet journalist

Another jailed Internet journalist
: I got email today from the Committee to Protect Journalists:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based press freedom advocacy group is writing to request your signature on a petition we will present to Tunisian President Zine El Abdine Ben Ali, asking for the release of imprisoned Tunisian Internet journalist, Zouhair Yahyaoui.

Yahyaoui, 35, has been in jail since June 4, 2002 after authorities arrested him at the Internet cafe where he worked. The website he ran under a pseudonym, (similar to a blog) carried material critical of the regime and of the Tunisian president, and on June 20, 2002, he was sentenced to 28 months in jail after being found guilty of publishing false information and using stolen communication lines to post his site. An appeals court later reduced the sentence to exactly two years. Yahyaoui’s only transgression was that he dared challenge the government, something few journalists do in a police state like Tunisia which has imprisoned, assaulted and harassed critical journalists since Ben Ali came to power in 1987.

As part of CPJ’s campaign, we are hoping to gain the support of his fellow Internet journalists here in the United States, (who luckily, will not suffer the same fate as Zouhair Yahyaoui for being critical of the government.)

See press releases on the case here and here.

  • R C Dean

    I hope the stupid antiwar nimrods who run around writing editorials about how they have been censored realize that this is what real censorship looks like, and we don’t have any of it in the US to speak of.

  • PCD


  • Committee to Protect Journalists
    Krystal Kearns
    The Committee to Protect Journalists is an indpendent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the global defense of press freedom.
    Analyzing journalism and mass media is best approached by examining media content and its impact on an audience.
    The book titled Mediating the Message writes, “Media content is the basis of media impact.”(27) Authors go on to say that studying content helps us infer things about phenomena that are less open and visible and suggests that content helps us predict its impact on the audience. More definitively, “what messages are available to an audience, and therefore, what messages are available to have an effect on that audience.”(27)
    Messages and their effects on audiences are an important media issue around the world. For example, in some countries content is censored by a third party, affecting the audience. We have evidence of censorship and can take implications one step further to include the affect on an audience who knows media content is censored.
    The book studies the press in the United States, but neglects to investigate media in other countries. It is important to consider journalism in different countries where suppression of media is high. In these situations, we find that media effects on audiences and its reflections of events vary widely. This expands our analysis of media content.
    In order to study media affects, it is important to consider media in those countries where journalists are imprisoned, physically attacked, and killed. Violence against journalists affects content by their personal experiences with violence and through government censorship. It therefore affects the effects on the audience.
    Journalism is different in countries where suppression of media is high. In these situations, we find that media’s effect on audiences and its reflections of events are considered differently and vary widely. This helps us study and analyze media content more thoroughly.
    I located the Committee to Protect Journalists web site at while I was researching violence against journalists. The CPJ is a “nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1981 to monitor abuses against the press and promote press freedom around the world” as described on the site. This organization fights violence against journalists and works toward freedom for all journalists.
    “The press in the United States does have great power and enjoys legal protection, but that isn’t the case in most countries,” stated on the site. Considering atrocities in non-U.S. countries does affect American journalists at a time when global reporting is common. But, even at home, journalists have been murdered in New York, California, Florida, Washington D.C., Colorado, and Arizona as reported on the site.
    CPJ protects journalists by “publicly revealing abuses against the press and by acting on behalf of imprisoned and threatened journalists and by effectively warning journalist and news organization where attacks on press freedom are likely to occur. Their content is affected by events around the world, allowing researchers to study effects on a global scale.
    “It is important to first determine what messages are available for viewers to use in learning about their world.”(28) In Mediating the Message, we are asked to assure that the media provide most of the “reality” that people know outside their own personal experience. But what if what an audience reads contradicts their personal experiences? For example, an audience may read about a stable political power through censored news, but see the political party’s instability. Or, on the other hand, audiences may read about an oppressive government that lies and steals and hear a political leader speak about its commitment to serving the people.
    CPJ gets its information from its own reporting as described on the site. Cases include attacks, censorship, expulsion, harassment, imprisonment, and murder. CPJ reports that “118 journalists were imprisoned as of Dec. 31, 1998 and 24 journalists were murdered in 1998.”
    Referring back to the book, “then studying media content surely helps us assess what reality it is they consume.”(28) It is noted that available messages do not ensure that those messages have an effect.(28)
    Researcher Harold Lasswell identified three important functions that communication serves in our society. These include surveillance of the environment, correlation of parts in society in responding to the environment and transmission from one social heritage to another.
    Surveillance may include the control, power struggle, and violence experienced by journalists in many countries. C. Wright expanded on surveillance saying, “news provides ‘warnings about imminent threats and dangers in the world’” and “news is usually based on some underlying event.”(29)
    Correlation may relate to government controlled newspapers and Wright said that with transmission, “virtually all forms of content transmit the perceived norms of society in some way.”(29)
    CPJ’s investigations of violence against journalists reflect varying events and thus the reality of many countries. CPJ reporters collect all information. A staff of 13 full-time and 5 part-time workers investigate “reports of attacks on the press and each case is confirmed.” A 31-member board of prominent journalists oversee and direct the committee’s activities, leading the crusade.
    The media content that is censored or affected by the attacks and murder of journalists paints the picture of events. CPJ wrote, “Since March 24, the eve of NATO’s air strikes against the Milosevic regime, the Yugoslav government has been waging a war on the country’ independent journalist and media outlets. As the bombing entered its second week, print media are censored and a number of broadcast outlets have been shut down.”
    CPJ reporters also wrote that the organization “is saddened and angered by the cold-blooded assassination of Slavko Curuvija, a publisher and editor in chief of the Belgrade-based daily Dnevni Telegraf and the weekly Evropljanin.” Ann Cooper, CPJ’s executive director, is quoted saying the murder was “a cowardly act meant to silence a valiant voice. Because of President Milosevic’s disdain for the independent media, we have little confidence that those who committed this crime will be brought to justice.”
    This site includes news alerts, CPJ protests, country and regional reports on press freedom, a list of enemies of the press, journalists in prison and journalists killed. It allows people to report a journalist in danger, details the organization and links to CPJ publications and other related links.
    The web site includes informative links to media site operating under harassment, attack, censorship, and closure. All forced to publish or broadcast using the Internet. Al-Shaab is a Cairo-based biweekly opposition newspaper linked to CPJ. Cuba Free Press, Zeta, and Middle East Times are also newspapers reporting under duress on the Internet listed as links on the CPJ web site.
    This look at press freedom around the world can be found using keywords society and culture, issues and causes, human rights, and organizations using internet search engines such as Yahoo and Excite.
    2. Shoemaker, Pamela J. and Reese, Stephen D. Mediating the Message: Theories of Influences on Mass Media Content. Longman Publishers USA; 1996

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