Trump, technology and television have strangled press freedom, journalists say By Reuters

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(Reuters) – US President Donald Trump emboldened other leaders to nullify freedom of the press, his message amplified by tech platforms and mainstream media outlets not knowing how to respond, said three prominent journalists and activists . CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Maria Ressa, who runs a Filipino news website known for its scrutiny of President Rodrigo Duterte, and Frontier Myanmar chief executive Sonny Swe, said in a Reuters Next panel that press freedom had deteriorated. drastically. Ressa, who has faced criminal prosecution for his reporting, compared the arrival of the main technology platforms to an atomic bomb exploding in the media ecosystem, with readers manipulated by algorithms into increasingly incendiary news. Amanpour, CNN’s top international anchor, said broadcasters and newspapers also had to consider the role they had played after they reported the comments and the news based on who had said them, regardless of whether they were true. “We should have dropped the microphone a long time ago,” he told the panel on world press freedom, adding that citizens must also begin to take much more responsibility for what they consume. Human rights groups have warned that press freedom is at risk in many parts of the world, with journalists harassed by police, the judiciary, politicians and protesters in the streets. In 2020, the United Nations accused the Trump White House of mounting an “attack” on the media that it said had had a very negative “Trump effect” on press freedom elsewhere. In reaction to the report, the White House said at the time that it expected all the news to be “fair and accurate,” adding that Trump “was not going to back down from telling lies.” Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 have previously given a light touch to the police posts of world leaders, arguing that people have a right to see their statements and that it is in the public interest. But the assault on the US Capitol last week sparked a rethink, with Twitter banning Trump’s account, which had 88 million followers, due to the risk of further violence. Speakers said that technology platforms needed to be regulated at a key point in their development, although there is no easy consensus on who should lead this. German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Trump’s Twitter ban and warned through a spokesperson that lawmakers, not private companies, should decide on possible restrictions on free expression. In Myanmar, Swe said, the government used Facebook to post news, particularly during the pandemic, preventing journalists from sifting through the data. When asked if they were more optimistic about press freedom in 2021, Amanpour said yes, while Ressa said it depended on how the industry handled this moment. Swe, jailed for eight years for violating censorship rules, said he was hopeful. For more information on the Reuters Next conference, click here or http://www.reuters.com/business/reuters-next. To watch Reuters Next live, visit https://www.reutersevents.com/events/next/register. php