Keeping investigations of threatened journalists alive

Keeping investigations of threatened journalists alive

Amid the growing threat to journalists’ safety in many parts of the world, a collaborative project called Forbidden Stories is working towards combating this unsettling trend by pursuing the stories of journalists who can no longer continue their work because they have been threatened, imprisoned or killed.

Initiated by the non-profit organization Freedom Voices Network, Forbidden Stories offers journalists under threat a secure way to store data and information related to their reporting, vowing to continue and publish their investigations in the event that they are jailed or killed in connection with their work. Additionally, those involved in the project hope it will aid in removing incentives to hurt journalists.

“I think that most of the time when journalists are killed, they are killed for the information and for the stories they try to publish,” said Laurent Richard, the founder and executive director of Freedom Voices Network.

“So, I think it doesn’t make sense for anybody to try and make a bad attempt against one journalist if they know that this journalist has already backed up the story and that it’s already in the hands of 10 or 20 other journalists ready to follow it up if anything happens to the journalist.”

Securing sensitive information
The website of the project features detailed instructions on how to securely send messages and documents, using Signal, SecureDrop or encrypted email, with the promise of keeping backups safe and, if this has been requested, continuing an investigation in case a journalist is no longer able to do so. As to not endanger those currently making use of the service, Richard can’t reveal how many journalists have been in contact or where they are based.

Defeating censorship with collaborative journalism
In light of its launch at the end of last October, Forbidden Stories published three short-form videos highlighting the murders of Mexican journalists Miroslava Breach, Javier Valdez, and Cecilio Pineda, and their investigations into corruption and drug cartels that presumably led to their death. Videos of this kind, of which the project’s staff members will continue to produce more, are translated into up to nine languages and published across Forbidden Stories’ own platform and social media channels in order to reach as large an audience as possible.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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