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The UN General Assembly Is Meeting: Put Press Freedom on the Agenda?

Joel Simon from the Committee to Protect Journalists has a featured piece in Columbia Journalism Review on how the United Nations should — but really can’t — do something about press freedom. What can the UN do for press freedom? Bottom line: Not much, but it can make some nice statements. Responding to an upsurge in media killings, particularly of journalists working in conflict zones, the UN has prioritized the issue of journalists’ safety in recent years. In 2012, UNESCO, the UN agency charged with defending press freedom, launched a Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

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Show why FOI matters

Sept. 28 is kind of a big day for the concept of democracy. Yes, Congress submitted the U.S. Constitution on this day in 1787 to states for ratification. We all know how that turned out. But Sept. 28 also is important for another reason: It’s International Right to Know Day, a worldwide event aimed at promoting open government laws and highlighting why they matter. The day commemorates the anniversary of when freedom of information groups from around the globe formed an international coalition called the FOI Advocates Network, of which SPJ is a member.

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One freelancer’s take-aways from EIJ15

Guest blogger: Hazel Becker  Excellence in Journalism 2015 (EIJ15), the big SPJ journalism conference that took place in Orlando, Fla., last weekend, offered several opportunities for freelancers to meet each other and share their stories. There was much to absorb – too much, perhaps, in just three days devoted to learning how to be better at what we do while also making connections with other journalists and doing the business of the three sponsoring organizations: SPJ, the Radio Television Digital News Association, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

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Thailand: Where Exporting Free Press Is An Issue

The Thai printer of the International New York Times refused to publish the Tuesday, September 22, edition because of a front page story about the health of the Thai king. Seems the printer thought the story insulted the king, and such insults are forbidden by law. Thai printers refuse to publish New York Times edition over article about king Roy Greenslade at The Guardian has a wonderful piece on how this episode shows the difficulties in promoting press freedom around the world.

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Lessons from the Wright Brothers’ First Flight

Steve Buttry has a great piece: Media lessons from ‘The Wright Brothers’: What historic stories are we missing today? The lesson here is to be open minded and look for the unusual. Today this can also be applied to looking for connections between international and local events. Maybe local reporters may not be missing out on history, but they could be missing out on excellent stories by not digging deeper into local immigrant communities or economic connections with the rest of the world.

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Diverse averse

What’s black and white and white all over? Answer: Most college newsrooms. Here’s how some silly censors accidentally raised a serious issue… Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts school in central Connecticut, located about halfway between Hartford and New Haven. Its 3,300 students seldom make national headlines, but that changed last month. Some or many students (it’s hard to tell) were furious when the campus newspaper printed an opinion column criticizing Black Lives Matter. The story spread when those students demanded the school defund the paper.

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