TheRoot.com scored a 286 percent increase in unique visitors over December 2013.
The Root

Pop Culture Still an Attraction for Black Web Visitors

BET.com, MadameNoire.com and TheRoot.com were big winners among African American-oriented websites in 2014, according to figures for unique visitors provided to Journal-isms by the comScore, Inc. research company.

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For the first time, the figures include both desktop and mobile data. Previous figures measured desktop use only.

BET.com, perennially at or near the top of the list, was the most visited site on a list submitted to comScore, Inc., with 8,473,000 unique visitors over the year. Its monthly totals represent an average increase of 25 percent over December 2013. BET spokesmen previously attributed BET.com's success to its tie-ins with the cable network. Such crowd pleasers as the BET awards shows "offer original content and celebrity-filled moments that engage our audience on our various digital platforms which helps increase traffic to the website," spokesman Luis Defrank said in response to 2012 figures.

MadameNoire, a gossip site, was in second place, with 6,601,000 unique visitors. Its average monthly totals represent a 78 percent increase over December 2013.

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The site says this about itself: "MadameNoire is a sophisticatedly witty and opinionated lifestyle publication for the black woman who is okay with the fact that she enjoys guilty pleasures like reality TV as much as rallying against injustices in the African American community. We keep readers up on . . . the latest happenings in black entertainment and news, and dish out advice and commentary on various issues from relationships to politics and style and business trends like only a best friend and nosy auntie could. . . ."

Moguldom, MadameNoire's parent company, also publishes Bossip, Lossip, MommyNoire, StyleBlazer, HipHopWired, MamiMuse, AFKTravel and AFKInsider.

TheRoot.com, in fourth place, scored the biggest increase over the year, with 4,375,000 unique visitors. Its average monthly totals represent a rise of 286 percent over December 2013.

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"It was a pivotal year for social justice and race relations issues, of critical interest to our community," Lyne Pitts, managing editor, messaged Journal-isms. "The Root has offered timely, consistent, thought-provoking coverage of these important issues and the readers have responded. With some new voices and many familiar writers, we look to continue to build on this growth in the year ahead." TheRoot.com, which is owned by Graham Holdings Co., formerly the Washington Post Co., publishes a version of this column.

Missing from this year's list is concreteloop.com, an entertainment site. Concrete Loop founder Angel Laws said she decided to shut down the site since it was no longer her passion.

Unique visitors for other African American sites in 2014: (list is not comprehensive)

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1. BET.com, 8.473,000; monthly totals representing an increase of 25 percent over December 2013.

2. MadameNoire.com, 6,601,000; increase of 78 percent.

3. World Star Hip-Hop, 6,146,000; decrease of 43 percent.

4. TheRoot.com, 4,375,000; increase of 286 percent.

5. Bossip.com, 4,269,000; increase of 47 percent.

6. MediaTakeOut.com, 2,604,000, decrease of 55 percent.

7. HelloBeautiful.com, 2,295,000; increase of 106 percent.

8. HuffPost BlackVoices, 2,255,000; increase of 22 percent.

9. NewsOne.com, 2,232,000; decrease of 16 percent.

10. Essence.com, 2,093,000; 2,093,000; increase of 3 percent.

11. BlackAmericaWeb.com, 1,785,000; increase of 139 percent.

12. TheGrio.com, 1,537,000; decrease of 52 percent.

13. TheYBF.com, 1,002,000; increase of 30 percent.

14. BlackPlanet.com, 596,000; decrease of 47 percent.

15. Ebony.com, 505,000; decrease of 27 percent.

16. EURweb.com, 494,000; decrease of 50 percent.

17. BlackEnterprise.com, 354,000; increase of 145 percent.

18. Clutchmagazineonline.com, 182,000, decrease of 76 percent.

ISIS Says It Executed Japanese Journalist

Video Underscores Danger in Reporting From Syria

"Islamic State (Isis) has released a video purportedly showing the beheading of the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and containing a warning that Japan is now a target for the militants," Justin McCurry reported Saturday for Britain's Guardian newspaper.

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Jake Adelstein and Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky added for the Daily Beast, "The video opened with the title in English, 'A Message To the Government of Japan.' A man dressed in an orange prisoner uniform who appears to be Goto is on his knees among some barren hills and standing beside him is a man with a knife dressed in the black outfit of a militant, speaking with a working-class British accent: the same staged scene first made infamous when the American hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff were beheaded last year. . . ."

Sherif Maansour, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, condemning the execution, wrote, "Islamic State militants have proven they do not care if you are a journalist from Syria, from the West or from the East. They only care about expanding their reign of terror. We are deeply concerned about the safety of all journalists in territory controlled by the militants — and about the information vacuum that has resulted from their bloody, intimidatory tactics."

Greg Botelho wrote Thursday for CNN, "Kenji Goto had every reason to stay home in Japan. A successful career. An adoring mother. A loving wife. A pair of young daughters, one of them just three-weeks old.

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"Yet, in his mind, he had to go into war-torn Syria.

"The experienced journalist explained why in a video shot in October from southern Turkey. He felt compelled to tell the stories of war in all its trauma, complexity and humanity.

" 'Syrian people (have been) suffering for three years and a half. It's enough,' the 47-year-old Goto explained. 'So I would like to get the story of what ISIS wants to do.'

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"So Goto crossed the border into Syria and headed toward the Islamist extremist group's de facto capital of Raqaa, despite the advice of friend, Alaaeddin Al Zaim, who'd been with him previously in that nation.

"Al Zaim recalled telling Goto, 'It's not safe for you.' The journalist replied that he didn't feel he was in danger. After all, his native Japan — unlike the Iraqi government and the international coalition supporting it — wasn't involved in the military fight against the terrorist group that's branded itself as the Islamic State.

" 'I am not American. I am not British. I am Japanese,' Goto said, according to Al Zaim, 'I can go.' . . ."

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Goto went missing in mid-October in the north of the country after entering from Turkey, reportedly to look for Haruna Yukawa, a friend who had allegedly been captured by the Islamic State group in August, Reiji Yoshida and Masaaki Kameda reported for the Japan Times.

Adelstein and Stucky wrote in the Daily Beast, "The latest atrocity at the hands of the group known widely as ISIS or ISIL came after long days of ostensible negotiations with Japan and with Jordan, first for a ransom of $200 million, then for the freedom of a convicted woman terrorist. The final deadline expired on Thursday at sunset in the Syrian and Iraqi territories now held by ISIS.

"The fate of a Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS in December, whose life also was threatened as part of the terror group's public demands, remains unknown. . . ."

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After the beheading of two American journalists in September, President Obama authorized a major expansion of the military campaign against Sunni militants in the Middle East, including American airstrikes in Syria and the deployment of 475 more military advisers to Iraq.

Lucy McCalmont reported at the time for Politico, "More Americans are aware of the news of the recent beheading of journalist James Foley than any other major news event in the last five years, according to a new poll. . . ."

Asahi Shimbun, Japan: VOX POPULI: Journalist Kenji Goto focused on plight of children in conflict zones

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Rukmini Callimachi, New York Times: The Horror Before the Beheadings (Oct. 25)

Rob Crilly, London Telegraph: Kenji Goto: Told the stories of ordinary people

Lola Duffort, Miami Herald: Pinecrest raising money for a Steven Sotloff memorial (Jan. 12)

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Rod Nordland, New York Times: ISIS Says It Has Killed 2nd Japanese Hostage

Wall Street Journal: Statement by the President on the Death of Kenji Goto 

"Liberal" New Republic Magazine Acknowledges Racist Past

The New Republic magazine, with a new editor and CEO and in the wake of a staff exodus, published a damning indictment of its racial history Thursday, chronicling racist assumptions made by the so-called liberal magazine over its century of existence.

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Jeet Heer, a Canadian journalist, wrote for the magazine, "Over the last few months, following The New Republic's centenary anniversary and a staff shake-up, a perceived legacy of racism in the magazine has been the topic of intense arguments, mostly carried out online.

"In the wake of the debate, vexing questions demand answers: How do we reconcile the magazine's liberalism, the ideology that animated the Civil Rights revolution, with the fact that many black readers have long seen — and still see — the magazine as inimical and at times outright hostile to their concerns?

"How could a magazine that published so much excellent on-the-ground reporting on the unforgivable sins visited upon black America by white America — lynchings, legal frame-ups, political disenfranchisement, and more — also give credence to toxic and damaging racial theorizing? And why has The New Republic had only a handful of black editorial staff members in its 100 years?

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"The New Republic owes an accounting to itself, its critics, and its readers; an honest reckoning on where it has gone wrong is the necessary first step to figuring out how to do better. . . ."

In another passage, Heer writes, "The New Republic's discussion of African American culture was punctuated by a jarring insouciance, particularly in the work of white writers. Throughout the first two decades, white writers would throw around the n-word with the casual aplomb of characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie. In 1916, travel writer Harrison Rhodes opined, 'We should not be so pleasant a people nor so agreeable a land were the niggers not among us … both the devil and the black man should get their due.' Rhodes thought he was writing as a friend to blacks, whereas he ended up replicating the very racism he thought he was challenging. . . ."

Martin Peretz, The New Republic's owner in recent decades, attributed "the problems of black America to Jesse Jackson, Marion Barry, and anonymous welfare mothers, while largely ignoring deindustrialization and mass incarceration. Affirmative action became a regular target; legacy admission of whites to colleges and universities was rarely discussed. Of course, the competing positions on affirmative action deserved an airing. But to attack affirmative action in a magazine with a staff that was almost entirely white and male was to defend not a principle but a troubling status quo. . . ."

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As reported in this column three weeks ago, "Gabriel Snyder, who became editor-in-chief of the New Republic magazine amid a recent staff exodus, has hired three people of color, making good on his promise to diversity the traditionally non-diverse staff. According to Benjamin Mullin of the Poynter Institute, Snyder has hired Jamil Smith, an MSNBC producer who has worked on both 'The Rachel Maddow Show' and 'Melissa Harris-Perry,' as a senior editor; Bijan Stephen, who joins as an associate editor tasked with editing the website and writing, most recently an editorial assistant at Vanity Fair; and Cathy Park Hong, who will be poetry editor. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College."

TV One Pushes Envelope on Language During Daylight Hours

TV One, which launched on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday in 2004 as the adult, responsible alternative to Black Entertainment Television, criticized then for booty-shaking videos, is airing promotions that begin with a woman saying, "There's never a good time to tell a man he's not getting any ass" and ends with a pair of pink panties flapping on a clothesline.

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The promotion for the "sneak peek" at TV One's "Born Again Virgin" has been airing during the 9-to-10 a.m. hour no fewer than three times during episodes of "News One Now With Roland Martin," who ironically led discussions denouncing VH1's recent "Sorority Sisters" reality show as trashy. A campaign succeeded in killing off the show.

Spokeswoman Monica Neal told Journal-isms by email on Friday, "Consideration was given to the language and imagery used in the promo and the network is comfortable with the creative decision."

According to TV One's Black History Month lineup, "Born Again Virgin is a 30-minute romantic dramedy series set in the fast-paced, heart of the south — Atlanta, exploring the trials of dating experienced by three 30-something best friends. The series follows Jenna, a vlogger who decides to become celibate after a stream of unsuccessful dates and hook-ups leave her wanting more. She decides to document her newly adapted sex-fast and share the hilarious 'sexcapades' of her girlfriends — Kelly and Tara. Each week, the ladies will comically work through their friendship, dating woes and career challenges while showcasing many heartfelt moments."

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The show airs immediately after TV One broadcasts the NAACP Image Awards.

Coleman Named Ombudsman at Corp. for Public Broadcasting

Milton Coleman, who retired as a senior editor at the Washington Post in 2012, has been named ombudsman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the organization announced on Wednesday.

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The three-year position is part time, Coleman told Journal-isms. CPB, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, describes itself as the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting.

"CPB established the Office of the Ombudsman in April 2005 as an independent office to help advance the highest standards of journalistic integrity in public media, including accuracy, fairness, balance, objectivity and transparency," according to the announcement. "As CPB's Ombudsman, Coleman will be responsible for independently reviewing and reporting on issues concerning public media programming."

Coleman said in the release, "Public media has an increasingly important role in our ever more diverse democracy. Hopefully, I can do whatever I can to help that media serve that need in the best of ways."

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Coleman has been president of the American Society of News Editors and the Inter American Press Association.

NPR and PBS each have their own ombudsmen.

Public Editor: "Odd Time" for N.Y. Times to Kill Race Beat

"To state the obvious, it seems like an odd time to discontinue the one Times beat devoted solely to race and ethnicity," Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, wrote on Thursday. "(A few words of reminder: Michael Brown of Ferguson, Eric Garner of Staten Island, Tamir Rice of Cleveland.)

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"But that's what happened this week, as The Times announced that Tanzina Vega, who has covered that beat for the national desk, would be transferred to the metro desk and go off to cover courts in the Bronx — a new beat for The Times.

"The news was not well received by some readers who became aware of it by reading of it elsewhere . . ."

Sullivan also wrote, "So why end the beat now? I talked to Dean Baquet, who made history last year as the first black executive editor of The Times, as well as to two other top-ranking editors, about the decision.

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"Mr. Baquet said he was high on Ms. Vega, calling her 'fabulous' more than once in our interview.

" 'She's a really good reporter,' he said. 'Now we want to develop her by giving her other kinds of experience.'

"The move, he said, 'is not a cosmic decision about how we cover race.' He said he would be having discussions with masthead editors, as well as editors on the national and metro desks, about how to broaden the coverage of race beyond a single beat.

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"At this point, he said, 'I haven't decided what to do about the beat, but I know that it has to be covered paper-wide.' "

Sullivan concluded, "I hope the editors are right. The historical moment looms large. It demands great coverage from The Times on race."

Jeremy Barr, capitalnewyork.com: The state of the ombudsman in 2015

"Ideal Viewer" Is White Female Cardboard Cutout

Yesterday, Jim Romenesko introduced readers to 'Michelle' and 'Lisa DeVries ,' a pair of middle-aged, prosperous white moms who, according to management directives, comprise the target demographic for two local TV newsrooms," Corey Hutchins wrote Thursday for Columbia Journalism Review.

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"The newsworthy bit: Michelle is a cardboard cutout. Lisa is a stock photo on a poster. Regardless, they exist to remind reporters about the ideal viewer to keep in mind when developing story ideas.

" 'When you pitch, pitch to her,' reads an internal memo from a news director at one South Carolina TV station. 'When you write, write to her. This is who we need watching in February. Women 25-54 is her demo.'

"Apparently, this is nothing new. A former employee of a different TV station in the Palmetto State not-so fondly recalls 'Marci' — 'Married, Affluent, something something' — whose photos graced the newsroom a few years ago before they were defaced with graffiti and Marci eventually 'died a slow death in many colorful ways, thanks to the staff's imaginations.'

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"It turns out that the management mindset behind these maneuvers has been the subject of serious academic study. Responding to the Romenesko item, Dartmouth political scientist (and former CJR correspondent) Brendan Nyhan tweeted that the cutout was like seeing James Hamilton's 'excellent research on newscaster pursuit of marginal female viewers in action.'

"That's a reference to the Stanford communications professor and author of several books about media markets, including All the News That's Fit to Sell: How the Market Transforms Information into News.

"I thought Hamilton might be able to shed some light on the thinking behind Michelle, Lisa, and Marci, and what it might mean for newsrooms. What follows are excerpts from our conversation, edited for clarity. . . ."

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Scott Jones, ftvlive.com: Media General Station Hires Cardboard Cutout

NPR Gives Platform to Critic of "White" Public Radio Voice

An essay by Chenjerai Kumanyika, reported in this column Wednesday, complained that "Journalists of various ethnicities, genders and other identity categories intentionally or unintentionally internalize and 'code-switch' to be consistent with culturally dominant 'white' styles of speech and narration."

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The essay caught the attention of NPR, which gave him a platform Thursday to discuss the issue.

"Of course, it's not just about what potential journalists face," said Kumanyika, who is African American. "It's also about the audience and the mission of public radio. Different hosts with different voices tell different kinds of stories, and vocal styles communicate important dimensions of human experience. What are we missing out on by not hearing the full range of those voices?

"Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. My wife and I spent some time in Ferguson, Mo., in August and November of 2014. I was standing on the block where Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown and I asked one young man why he thought there had been such an uprising in Ferguson. He reminded me that Michael Brown's body had laid in the street for four-and-a-half hours before being picked up.

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"Of course, I had heard this before in the news, but this young brother made me feel it. No one was there to translate. Instead, he carefully told the story his own way. I felt the weight of Michael Brown's body and the weight of so many other young lives in this young man's voice.

"So what do we do? We really have to think about who is the public in public media. The demographics of race and ethnicity are changing in the United States. The sound of public media must reflect that diversity, so get on it. It's time to make moves. . . ."

Those moves should include the seemingly ever-longer underwriting announcements, which a professional actress more often than not delivers in a crisp, upbeat, white-sounding voice. They do little to advance NPR's articulated goal of a network that "sounds like America."

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Paul Farhi, Washington Post: Does public radio sound too 'white'? NPR itself tries to find the answer.

Scott Simon with Gene Demby, NPR "Weekend Edition Saturday": The Infinite Whiteness Of Public Radio Voices (Jan. 31)

Do Black Photographers Contribute to Stereotypes?

Michel du Cille, the prize-winning Washington Post photojournalist who died at 58 on Dec. 11 of an apparent heart attack, expressed misgivings about whether his photographs of African Americans were accurate portrayals or merely adding to stereotypes.

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Du Cille and other veteran black photographers think aloud about that question in "What Is News? Most Black Men Are Not Criminals!," a 20-minute video by Craig Herndon, a retired Post photographer and former professor of multi-media studies at Howard University.

"It's ready as an educational short or a promo for the larger project," Herndon messaged Journal-isms. "I made it available to photo educators last year, when it won an honorable mention at AEJMC, VISUAL JOURNALISM division," referring to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Herndon said he is seeking the views of other veteran African American photographers to add to the project. Those interested may contact him via the Comments section, below, and the message will be forwarded.

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Short Takes

"The Miami Herald’s Jim Wyss made a startling and surreally ironic discovery Friday morning," Susannah Nesmith wrote Friday for Columbia Journalism Review. "The discovery: Venezuela state-run media was using a picture of him to promote tourism to the troubled South American nation. In the picture he is being hugged by a woman under a slogan that reads, 'We love Venezuela …. for welcoming foreigners as one of their own.' The irony? The picture was taken at Miami International Airport, not Venezuela. And Wyss looked so happy because he had just been released by Venezuelan officials, who detained him for two days in 2013 without letting him call the Herald or telling him why he was being held. . . ."

"A county official in rural Virginia referred to a black newspaper reporter as 'boy' during a public meeting, and he is now apologizing and calling the remark an error," the Associated Press reported Thursday. "Augusta County Supervisor Tracy Pyles, who is white, made the comment Monday during a Board of Supervisors work session. He complained about news coverage and told Calvin Trice, 'You got it wrong, boy — uh, son.' . . ."

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"Five years ago, to this very day, Fox Sports 1 reporter Clay Travis made the following bold prediction about Sacramento Kings player DeMarcus Cousins . . ." Tina Nguyen reported Friday for Mediaite, crediting Deadspin. "Bold prediction. Superlative foresight. Inconceivable insight into the soul of DeMarcus Cousins . . . future criminal of thoughtcrime. Clay Travis, the NSA of sports writers. Five years later, DeMarcus Cousins has not been arrested for anything, and today, he celebrated his five-year-no-arrestiversary on Instagram." On Friday, this tweet was posted, presumably from Travis' account: "@boogiecousins Funny and well played. $5k to your charity of choice. Let me know where to send it."

"CNN’s 'New Day' has momentum, and the network is ready to brag about it," Mark Joyella reported Thursday for TVNewser. "In a full-page ad in The New York Times today, CNN teases MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' host Joe Scarborough, saying 'Sorry, Joe, while you were leaning forward, we were moving ahead.' Indeed, 'New Day' beat Scarborough’s 'Morning Joe' in the demo for 2014 (as did HLN's 'Morning Express'), and 'New Day' beat MSNBC in both the demo and among total viewers for January. . . ."

The 600 McDonald's restaurants in the New York metropolitan area have chosen these "2015 McDonald's Black Media Legends and Trailblazers" for Black History Month: Chuck Carter (WPIX-TV), Don Collins (WCBS-TV), Adrian Council (Positive Community), Dennis Dillon (Christian Times), William Egyir (New York Beacon), Whoopi Goldberg (ABC), Hank Hamlett (WNBC-TV), Byron Harmon (WNYW-TV), TJ Holmes  (ABC News), Yvette Miley (MSNBC), Les Payne (Newsday and the National Association of Black Journalists), Robert Pickett (WBLS-FM), Deborah Roberts (ABC News), Shaila Scott (WBLS-FM), Tracie Strahan (WNBC-TV), Brandon Walker (News 12 Connecticut) and, Wendy Williams (Fox). Free commemorative posters with pictures of those chosen are to be given away at the restaurants during February.

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"'PBS NewsHour' led the way in coverage of climate change among U.S. nightly news programs in 2014 for the third year in a row, according to a new analysis," James Gerkin reported Friday for the Huffington Post. "Progressive watchdog group Media Matters found that 'NewsHour' covered climate change 45 times last year, up from 35 in 2013. 'CBS Evening News' aired only 22 reports on climate in 2014, while 'NBC Nightly News' and ABC's 'World News Tonight' aired 14 and 11 climate-related stories, respectively. . . ."

"The wife of a Saudi rights activist, sentenced last year to 1,000 lashes for criticizing the Kingdom's clerics in his blog, said on Thursday her husband's health had worsened after the first round of flogging and that he could not survive the full punishment," David Ljunggren reported Thursday for Reuters. "Raif Badawi, 31, a blogger and founder of the 'Free Saudi Liberals' website, received 50 lashes on Jan 9. The second of 20 rounds in total has twice been postponed on medical grounds. . . ."

"Jordanian authorities arrested the owner of a local news website and the site's editor-in-chief on Wednesday, accusing the two of aiding terrorism and spreading false news in a report stating that an imprisoned Iraqi militant would be freed in a hostage negotiation deal, according to news reports," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Thursday. "Hashim al-Khalidi, owner of Saraya News, and Seif Obeidat, the website's editor-in-chief, face up to 15 years in prison if convicted, news reports said. . . ."

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"A Yemeni NGO's report that it documented 25 attacks on journalists in Sana'a over the space of two days early this week — including beatings, kidnappings and detentions — is cause for deep concern," Siobhan Hagan reported Thursday for the International Press Institute. "The Freedom Foundation for media freedom, rights and development said that the attacks on local and foreign journalists came on Sunday and Monday as reporters attempted to cover civil demonstrations in the wake of recent political turmoil. . . ."