In the wake of the U.S. presidential election and the road to the inauguration, here is a special international media edition of World News You Missed.
Earlier this month, Haaretz, an Israeli daily reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had offered media mogul Arnon Mozes a deal that would limit his media competition in exchange for favorable news coverage. A conversation caught on tape between the two men revealed that Netanyahu would have limited the circulation or shut down a part of the Israel Hayom newspaper, restoring dominance to Yedioth Ahronoth, the Mozes family’s daily that dominated the Israeli media market for decades until 2007. Hayom, which is owned by Sheldon Adelson, an American casino magnate and close friend and political patron to Netanyahu, unseated them by offering the Israeli public nationally distributed free news. Coverage in Hayom is especially pro-Bibi, contrasting to Yedioth Ahronoth, which was accused of a “smear campaign” against the Prime Minister is the last election. Bibi has been rocked by corruption scandals this month. To read a more in-depth look at the current Israeli media war, go here.
Fake news is no longer just an American media problem. During the last few days of December, Italian politicians and media have been embroiled in a raging debate about solutions to combat fake news. FT broke the story with an interview with Italian antitrust chief, Giovanni Pitruzzella, who called on members of the EU community to set up regulating bodies to label fake news online, remove it from the internet, and impose fines.
Allies of Matteo Renzi, former Prime Minister who was defeated in the December constitutional referendum by a 20 point margin, have claimed fake news as the reason for Renzi’s loss. On December Speaking to Poynter, Luca Sofri, managing editor of Il Post told Poynter believes the Italian fake news problem is rooting in Italian media culture, which “has never prioritized accuracy, verification, or guarantees that what is published is reliable”. To read more about the fake news crackdown, go here.
Just this week, China’s Cyberspace Administration announced it will require app stores operating in the country to register with the government. While the move might seem minor, this announcement comes three weeks after Apple complied with a request by Chinese authorities, to withdraw The New York Times app from their Chinese App Store. Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy called the move an “attempt to prevent readers in China from accessing independent news coverage” written about China. Critics believe it to be the first step of a new form of digital censorship that restricts app marketplaces in order to block apps the government does not like. Beijing has also recently banned the popular game Pokemon Go, citing national security concerns. To read more about China’s digital media crackdown, go here and here.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that kidnapped Iraqi female journalist Afrah al-Qaisi had been returned unharmed after a week. Al-Qaisi, who is known for her satirical articles criticizing the Iraqi government, was kidnapped by three gunmen who took her from her home in Baghdad. In a strange turn of events, the kidnappers also returned the car, telephone, laptop and jewelry they took when they stormed her home. Details about the identity of her attackers have not by shared by Iraqi security forces, or whether the attack was motivated by her profession. For more insight into Iraqi press freedom, go here