Media Insider: Global Press Freedom Plunges, Irish Government Wants Prison for Fake-News Spreaders, Ad Age Names Magazines of the Year

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week.

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Global Press Freedom Plunges to Worst Level in This Century

Media freedom around the world has fallen to the lowest level for at least a decade, reports The Guardian. According to a new study, journalists are being threatened by government censorship, organized crime, and commercial pressures caused by the growth of the internet. The report, produced by Article 19 in conjunction with V-Dem, measured freedom of expression in 172 countries between 2006 and 2016. What they found is concerning, including journalists being threatened by intimidation, prosecution, and even murder in some parts of the world.

Mexican journalists, in particular, are facing a “profound crisis of safety,” according to the United Nations.

Russia Labels Voice of America and 8 Other U.S. Media ‘Foreign Agents’

Nine news organizations funded by the US government – including Voice of America, Current Time TV, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – have been labeled “foreign agents” by Russia’s Justice Ministry. The move is seen as retaliation for what Russia alleges is the US Justice Department’s crackdown of state-funded news organizations like RT and Sputnik in the US. According to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the US agency that oversees the news organizations, there is no indication as to what limitations might be imposed by this designation. It has not yet affected current programming.

Meanwhile, in China, President Xi Jinping signaled the country’s intention to toughen web censorship by deploying cutting-edge technologies.

New Law Proposes Five Years in Prison for Spreading Fake News

A new law proposed in Ireland would make actively promoting fake news on social media a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison. The legislation also contains restrictions on online political advertising, and will require the purchasers of ads to display a transparency notice stating their aim and target audience. The bill comes as the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) has launched a logo to reassure readers that they are being protected from fake news. Newspapers, websites, and magazines signed up to Ipso can use the logo as a guarantee to readers they are not being misled, says The Irish News. The slogan that accompanies the symbol states: “For press freedom with responsibility.”

ICYMI: Nearly half of Americans believe news media fabricates stories about Trump.

Ad Age’s Magazines of the Year 2017: See All the Winners

2017 has been a challenging year for the publishing industry, to put it mildly. We’ve seen big players slash budgets, and media darlings like BuzzFeed scrambling to rethink business models and how to diversify revenue. For its latest Magazines of the Year special report, Ad Age looked at some of the modern media brands that are cross-platform, experimental, nimble and, perhaps most notably, disciplined. The New Yorker made the list, as did Condé Nast’s Bon Appétit and GQ. Hearst is featured prominently on the list, with several titles including Country Living, The Magnolia Journal, and Martha Stewart Living. One of Hearst’s newest titles, The Pioneer Woman Magazine, took Launch of the Year.

Speaking of magazines: What Meredith got right and Time got wrong in the digital era.

Pulitzers Change Rules for Breaking News Category

Earlier this week, the Pulitzer Prizes announced a change to its Breaking News reporting category. Previously, a newsroom could only enter the category if it was geographically proximate to the story. Now, breaking news entries will include coverage related to news events of consequence, whether they are produced by a local, state, or national news organization.

The documentary “The Pulitzer at 100” looks at the history of the Prize, and features interviews with past winners.

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Maria Perez is Director, Audience Website Operations, with PR Newswire. An animal lover, she curates content for @PRNPets – that is, when she’s not busy cuddling with her 10-year-old blind Maltese, Toody.

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