PEN America Calls for Trump Administration to Open Migrant Camp to Journalists’ Scrutiny; What You Can Do to Close the Camps by Kella Hanna-Wayne

100-mile border region on the U.S.–Mexico border courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency / Public Domain

“A crude age. Peace is stabilized with cannon and bombers, humanity with concentration camps and pogroms. We’re living in a time when all standards are turned upside-down, Kern. Today the aggressor is the shepherd of peace, and the beaten and hunted are the troublemakers of the world. What’s more, there are whole races who believe it!” Erich Maria Remarque, Flotsam



Climbing the Mexico–United States barrier fence in Brownsville, Texas courtesy of Nofx221984 and generously released into Public Domain

PEN America issued the statement [below] in response to The Washington Post’s report that the Trump Administration is blocking journalists from accessing migrant detention camps on the southern border to see the facilities for themselves and speak to children, who are reportedly held in squalid conditions.

“It is shocking that the American public largely must learn about the dangerous conditions at these detention centers not through reporters being able to cover the news, but through second-hand reports from lawyers and advocates granted access under a legal agreement with the U.S. border patrol,” said Nora Benavidez, PEN America’s Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs. “The fact that journalists are being sealed off and held behind a wall of secrecy, unable to show the American people the faces and voices of those who are suffering in squalor is one more unconscionable aspect to this epic horror story on the southern border.”

“Cutting the press off from this story to hide what is going on is unacceptable and unwarranted; professional journalists are well-equipped to handle issues of privacy and consent, and this should pose no barrier to press access. The American public has a right to see for themselves what is happening in these camps through first-hand accounts, images and video documented by professional journalists. Indeed, the fact that every story that does make it to a reporter galvanizes public attention and action demonstrates the importance of that reporting. PEN America calls on the Trump administration to open the camps to the scrutiny of the press–and thus, the American people–immediately, and end this effort to keep what is happening in the detention centers a secret.”

PEN America has previously spoken out and advocated about press access to migrant detention centers and the situation for journalists covering the immigration crisis on the border. In October 2018, it hosted a panel discussion at the Texas Book Festival entitled “Stories (Un)told,” featuring journalists speaking to the challenges of covering child detention issues and immigration more broadly. Following months of tracking and public comments on the situation of lawyers and journalists being surveilled at the southern U.S.-Mexico border, PEN America joined a coalition of human rights and media freedom organizations in sending an open letter to the Department of Homeland Security in May, 2019, expressing concern for the privacy violations and explicit targeting by Customs and Border Protection of journalists, activists, and lawyers working on issues around the “migrant caravan”. Following our letter, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged it had engaged in the surveillance and tracking of these individuals. PEN America has also condemned the unacceptable practice of the government’s surveillance of journalists reporting on this issue and authored a petition urging the administration to stop monitoring journalists at the border. That petition has garnered more than 58,000 signatures to date.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


From Kella Hanna-Wayne, poet, blogger, activist

“Today, I read something terrible; a story that possibly upset me more any other news story from our current administration and it filled me with helplessness.

“Over the past year, Trump’s immigration policies have become increasingly strict and dehumanizing. Detention centers, separation of families without keeping records, poor hygiene, inadequate access to food, water, and medical attention, children in cages– these were all themes among reports of the horrifying conditions our government was signing off on for immigrants, regardless of their documentation.

“But in the last week, it came to light that not only is Trump using Fort Sill– the base used to hold Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during WWII– to hold immigrant children, but that our government is now using concentration camps as a strategy to manage the influx in immigrants coming to the US. “

Kella goes on from these introductory remarks to provide a comprehensive list of tips and resources: What You Can Do to Close the Camps. I particularly appreciate it when folks don’t just regurgiate the bad news we’re all reading anyway but who go on to provide tools for mitigating the travesties. Bravo, Kella!

Stay tuned for a comprehensive interview with Kella here on The Poet by Day.


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* Three poems, Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
* Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review
* From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems)

A mostly bed-bound poet, writer, former columnist and the former associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove,I Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta/ Phor(e) /Play, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, a curated info hub for poets and writers. I founded The Bardo Group/Beguines, a vitual literary community and publisher of The BeZineof which I am the founding and managing editor.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton



2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate, Andrew Yang, proposes support for local newsrooms

Andrew Yang talking about urban entrepreneurship at Techonomy Conference 2015 in Detroit, MI courtesy of Asa Mathat for Techonomy under CC BY-SA 4.0 license

Andrew Yang (b. 1975) is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, the founder of Venture for America (VFA), and a U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. He worked in startups and early-stage growth companies as a founder or executive from 2000 to 2009. After he founded VFA, the Obama administration selected him in 2012 as a “Champion of Change” and in 2015 as a “Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship”.In November 2017 Yang launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.His signature issue is support for what he calls the “Freedom Dividend”, a form of Universal Basic Income (UBI) for every American adult over 18 years old. Yang believes UBI is a necessary response to the rapid development of automation that is leading to workforce challenges. According to CNN on May 23 Yang ranked tenth out of the top ten Democratic candidates. The first Democratic candidate debates begin on June 26. Yang is scheduled to participate on June 27.



Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s initiative to support local newsrooms through American Journalism Fellows is a creative proposal worthy of consideration to bolster community-based news PEN America acknowledged in a statement today.

According to Yang’s campaign website, the American Journalism Fellows initiative would place 535 journalists in local newsrooms across the country. Changing technology and the shift of advertising revenue from news organizations to tech giants have undermined the traditional business model of journalism. Yang’s initiative aims to “provide resources to ensure a strong independent press, free up a critical mass of reporters to meet market-based demands, [and] affirm journalism as a profession.”

In a June 16 interview with CNN, Yang argued for government investment in local news by citing studies that connect increasing political polarization to the collapse of local reporting.

“If you believe in a vibrant democracy, or even a functional democracy,” Yang said, “then you have to believe in local journalism.”

The campaign website said reporters from each state would be “nominated by a body of industry professionals and selected by a nonpartisan commission. Selected reporters will receive a 4-year grant of $400,000 ($100,000 per year) and will be stationed at a local news organization with the condition that they report on issues relevant to the district during the period of their Fellowship.

“We commend Yang for his recognition of the valuable service that local news outlets provide to communities,” said PEN America’s Washington Director Thomas O. Melia. “Journalism, and local journalism in particular, is an asset to democracy. In the struggle to preserve and support this fundamental institution, we welcome new and innovative ideas that add to the discourse.

“Care would have to be taken to ensure that such a program did not lead to journalists promoting government views or perspectives, but instead enhanced independent and investigative journalism. 

“Going forward, we hope other campaigns and political party leadership will follow Yang’s lead in formulating concrete policy proposals that seek to reinforce local journalism as a public good.”

This post is complied courtesy of PEN America, Wikipedia, CNN, and Yang’s campaign site.

DISCLAMER: This content is meant to be informative and is not to be construed as an endorsement of Yang.  The Poet by Day does not endorse political candidates but does stand for freedom of expression and integrity in journalism and assumes that as writers, poets and artists, readers here share this interest and concern.

PEN America is active in supporting freedom of the press in local communities around the country. It’s Press Freedom Incentive Fund provides financial support for initiatives that mobilize communities to demand an independent and robust local press. By uniting supporters, readers, and writers from coast to coast in support of journalism, PEN America stands in solidarity with local newsrooms nationwide. PEN America is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization that does not endorse political candidates.

*****

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* Three poems, Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review

A homebound writer, poet, and former columnist and associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, I Am Not a Silent Poet, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, an info hub for poets and writers and am the founding/managing editor of The BeZine.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Newsroom Transparency Tracker Empowers the Public in an Age of Distrust

There are over 242 codes of ethics in journalism that vary across various regions of the world. The codes of ethics are created through an interaction of different groups of people such as the public and journalists themselves. Most of the codes of ethics serve as a representation of the economic and political beliefs of the society where the code was written.] Despite the fact that there are a variety of codes of ethics, some of the core elements present in all codes are: remaining objective, providing the truth, and being honest.



This week PEN America and the Trust Project released a first-of-its-kind digital tool that tracks the transparency of over fifty leading national and regional media outlets by surfacing the policies, practices, and people behind the news.

The Newsroom Transparency Tracker encourages media outlets to be accountable to the public and empowers the public to make informed choices about the news they watch, listen to, and read.

The Transparency Tracker will serve as:

  • A media literacy tool that empowers the public to hone in on reliable sources of news and defend themselves from fraudulent news and misinformation
  • An accountability tool that encourages news outlets to be more responsive to the interests of the public
  • An educational and research tool that helps teachers, librarians, media industry professionals, and academics assess, and teach the standards and practices behind, news reporting

Susanne Nossel

“In an age when the spread of fraudulent news threatens the fabric of our democracy, it is vital to equip news consumers with the skills that are needed to vet and value the information they receive,” said Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer of PEN America. “By pressing newsrooms to share more information about how the news is gathered, reported, and edited, we hope the Tracker will help foster trust where it is warranted in reputable newsrooms and begin to inoculate the public against the threat of misleading and false information.”

The Transparency Tracker uses four of the Trust Project’s “Trust Indicators” to highlight the information that each featured media outlet publicly reveals about its ethics codes and related commitments, how it does its work, and the expertise of its journalists. Developed collaboratively by over 100 senior news executives within the Trust Project network, the Trust Indicators are transparency standards rooted in core journalistic values and based on in-depth research capturing what the public values and trusts in news.

“Journalists have ethical values and principles that, all too often, they forget to share with the public, but bold transparency is key to regaining a trustworthy press,” said Sally Lehrman, award-winning journalist and CEO of the Trust Project. “Our Trust Indicators are designed to pull back the curtain on who and what is behind real journalism, so we all can make more informed choices about the news we consume.”

PEN America’s commitment to newsroom transparency is also rooted in research, which has included reports on the harmful impact of fraudulent news on free expression and civic life in the United States. In October 2017, PEN America published the report Faking News: Fraudulent News and the Fight for Truth, which found that the spread of fraudulent news has been magnified by declining trust in traditional (“mainstream”) news media. One of the report’s key recommendations for news outlets was to be more transparent, particularly regarding the ethics that underpin reporting and editing, fact-checking, corrections, and distinguishing news from commentary and opinion.

The Trust Project is the first organization to address mistrust in the news by developing global transparency standards, giving the public access to tools for combating misinformation. The Tracker expands awareness of and access to the consortium’s Trust Indicators, which an estimated 327 million people see across over 125 news partner websites. Dozens of additional news sites are in the process of adopting and implementing the Trust Indicators.

RELATED:

Who the partners are:

PEN America is a nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Founded in 1922, PEN America is the largest of the more than 100 centers worldwide that make up the PEN International network and works to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.

The Trust Project is a global, collaborative network of news organizations building Trust Indicators and working with technology platforms to affirm and amplify journalism’s commitment to transparency, accuracy, inclusion, and fairness so that the public can make informed news choices. Led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman, the Trust Project is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lehrman founded the nonprofit, nonpartisan Trust Project in 2014 as a response to the crisis of trust in news and the increasing confusion over the distinctions between journalism and information that may be advertising, promotion, or actual propaganda.

PEN America and the Trust Project are grateful to Craig Newmark Philanthropies for making the Newsroom Transparency Tracker possible.

This post is courtesy of PEN America, the Trust Project, and Wikipedia.


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* Three poems, Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
“Over His Morning Coffee,” Front Porch Review

A homebound writer, poet, and former columnist and associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, I Am Not a Silent Poet, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, an info hub for poets and writers and am the founding/managing editor of The BeZine.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton



 

 

UNESCO Conference on the safety of female journalists in the digital sphere; PEN.org Artists at Risk Connection

Emblem of the United Nations / Public Domain

“Attacks on women journalists represent a clear challenge to SDG 5 on gender equality, and to SDG 16.10 which calls for public access to information and fundamental freedoms (and has an indicator specifically on safety of journalists)” UNESCO



“The increase in attacks against female journalists and the specific threats faced by women journalists, including sexual harassment and violence, both online and offline, is a growing concern. With countless victims of violence and intimidation, there is a pressing need to explore new ways to reinforce the safety of women journalists on the ground.

“UNESCO has a leadership role in the implementation of the UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. The General Conference at its 39th session invited the Director-General to reinforce activities aimed at addressing the specific threats to the safety of women journalists, both online and offline. The event is a Member State-driven initiative, in close cooperation with the UNESCO Secretariat.”


A conference on the safety of female journalists in the digital sphere, Mobilizing against online harassment of women journalists — What solutions?, will take place at UNESCO Headquarters on 18 June (3-6 p.m.).

Female journalists are three time more likely than their male colleagues to be targets of attacks, humiliations or threats online. UNESCO is seeking ways to respond to the upsurge in violence that threatens the profession by bringing together journalists, political decision-makers, lawyers and media professionals to examine the issues involved at the conference.

Several women journalists from different parts of the world will share their experiences to illustrate how cyber attacks seek to undermine their work, the dangers harassment poses to freedom of expression, and envisage ways to tackle the problem.

The event is organized at the initiative of several Member States of the Group of Friends for the Safety of Journalists at UNESCO.

As the lead agency in the implementation of the United Nations Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists, UNESCO is combating the worrying rise in attacks on journalists, particularly women. These attacks do not only threaten the fundamental right of access to information but also the right of women to exercise their professional activities in a safe and decent environment.

Programme and more

People wishing to attend the event are invited to contact Saorla McCabe, Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, s.mccabe@unesco.org(link sends e-mail); +33 (0)145680962


PEN America nonprofit logo under fair use


ARTISTS AT RISK CONNECTION (ARC)

PEN.org’s ARC is a collaboration of artistic freedom organizations worldwide. It serves artists of all disciplines: visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, performance artists, writers, and other individuals who produce significant creative output in any medium. Assistance is quite diversified.  Details HERE.

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“ARC is a collaborative project led by PEN America, which has been committed to protecting open expression in the United States and worldwide since 1922. PEN America, a champion of the freedom to write, stands at the intersection of literature and human rights. It is the largest of more than 140 centers of PEN International.

“ARC serves as a hub for freedom of expression and artistic freedom organizations worldwide, networking together to support artists at risk. Visit Our Network page to see some of our key partners worldwide or go directly to our Find Help page to search our network database.”


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* Three poems, Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
“Over His Morning Coffee,” Front Porch Review

A homebound writer, poet, and former columnist and associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, I Am Not a Silent Poet, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, an info hub for poets and writers and am the founding/managing editor of The BeZine.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton