Former CNN Employee Says He Was Fired Because of His Race

A CNN set in Mesa, Ariz., Feb. 22, 2012
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

CNN's Racial "Atmosphere" Worries NABJ

Fired Black Producer Files $5 Million Lawsuit

A longtime CNN employee's $5 million wrongful-termination and discrimination lawsuit, filed Monday, is the latest reason that the National Association of Black Journalists "is concerned about the atmosphere for African Americans at CNN," the association said in a statement Wednesday.

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Erik Pedersen reported Monday for Deadline Hollywood, "Stanley Wilson worked as field producer and writer of news and documentaries, covering stories including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and elections and contributing to such programs as Black In America and Homicide In Hollenbeck.

"In the suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here [PDF]), Wilson claims that Peter Janos, who served as his immediate or general supervisor for his entire 17 years at CNN, 'never liked Plaintiff and never wanted him at the [Los Angeles] bureau because of Plaintiff's protected characteristics, including his race, color and ancestry, among other things.'

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"Wilson was promoted only once during his tenure at CNN, in 2003, despite applying for a dozen job openings."

Petersen also wrote, "Wilson was assigned to cover a story in early January, and the suit claims that there was a question of attribution regarding three sentences. The story was pulled — which according to the suit, 'was the pretext Janos needed to terminate Plaintiff’s employment.'

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"On January 9, Wilson was placed on leave and told that 'CNN was conducting an audit of the entirely of Plaintiff's work.' He was terminated January 28. . . ."

The Daily Mail reported, "At the time of his termination, the lawsuit claims Wilson was the sole African-American producer at CNN in the western region,  and Wilson often noted to CNN that African-American men outside of New York and Atlanta failed to be promoted. . . ."

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The lawsuit describes Wilson as "a 51-year-old African American and Latino-American resident" of Los Angeles County.

Bob Butler, president of NABJ, told Journal-isms in an email, "I am concerned because this sounds eerily similar to complaints I have heard from other African American employees who have left CNN since I joined the board of directors in 2007. The common theme in these conversations was frustration that they were not given opportunities to advance or were passed over by less experienced employees."

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In its statement later in the day, NABJ said, "Several African Americans anchors have left the anchor desk or CNN altogether in the past few years including Soledad O'Brien, [T.J.] Holmes and Suzanne Malveaux.

"In addition the latest examination of newsroom managers finds only two African American executive producers."

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The statement also said, "In 2007, NABJ awarded CNN its 'Best Practices' award to recognize the news organization for its efforts to increase diversity on air and behind the scenes.

"Since that time, we have seen a number of African Americans leave CNN," said NABJ President Bob Butler. 'I know CNN is going through layoffs but the departure of so many African Americans is worrisome.'

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"A CNN official reached by NABJ said the company had no comment.

"NABJ has met with CNN several times over the past few years to express concern about the lack of African Americans on camera and in management positions. . . ."

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Asked about Wilson's suit, CNN spokeswoman Barbara Levin told Journal-isms by email, "We decline comment."

Pete D'amato, MailOnline: Veteran field producer who was promoted only once in 17 years sues CNN for $5million over age and racial discrimination

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Erik Wemple, Washington Post: CNN panel erupts in argument about cops and racial profiling 

Restraints on African News Media Tighten Amid Ebola Panic

"The panic in Western African countries hit by the Ebola epidemic is taking its toll on local news media," Reporters Without Borders reported on Wednesday.

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"Some countries are 'quarantining' their journalists to prevent them covering this unprecedented public health crisis although responsible media coverage is badly needed.

"Last weekend in Guinea, soldiers prevented a group of lawyers and journalists from travelling to a village in N’Zérékoré prefecture to investigate the murders of eight people, including three journalists, during a health education visit to the village on 18 September.

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"Although the lawyers and journalists had official permission to visit the village, their equipment was seized and," according to Radio France Internationale, "their recordings and photos were deleted.

"The army now controls the massacre area and prevents anyone from going there, even those with orders signed by the civilian authorities, highlighting an administrative confusion that is complicating the fight against Ebola.

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"In Liberia, the authorities last week announced new restrictions on media coverage of the epidemic. Journalists must now have a health ministry permit to conduct interviews or take photos inside hospitals and, even more seriously, medical personnel have been banned from communicating directly with the media.

"The information ministry then proceeded to tighten the government’s grip on the media by assuming responsibility for issuing press cards, which until now have been issued by the Press Unions of Liberia in line with international standards including the Declaration of Table Mountain, which President [Ellen] Johnson Sirleaf signed in July 2012. . . ."

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In the Americas, meanwhile, "Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who became the first patient diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States, died Wednesday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas," as the Dallas Morning News reported. 

Implicitly acknowledging that the thousands of Africans who died remained faceless, the story continued, "The 42-year-old Duncan put a face on the deadly virus that has taken nearly 4,000 lives in a West African epidemic this year. He drew worldwide attention to the Dallas hospital, where he lay in isolation for 10 days. His ordeal brought home to Americans the reality of a plague once considered a far-away problem. . . ."

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Luvvie Ajayi, the Grio: Our ignorance of Africa is more dangerous than Ebola

allafrica.com: West Africa: Journalists Must Avoid Mass Hysteria Over Ebola

Julia Belluz, vox.com: 18 things you need to know about Ebola

Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: The Ebola experiment.

Jordan Chariton, TVNewser: First Ebola Patient In U.S., Thomas Eric Duncan, Has Died

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Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Nigeria gets praise from the U.S. for its Ebola response

Arielle Duhaime-Ross, the Verge: Ebola panic is getting pretty racist 

Kristen Hare, Poynter: 'It has been surreal' to cover Ebola in Dallas

Jesse L. Jackson Sr., National Newspaper Publishers Association: Ebola: Fight the Disease, not the Victims

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Shirin Jaafari, "The World," Public Radio International: An Atlanta radio host wants people to stop stigmatizing Africans over Ebola

Sophie Kleeman, mic.com: One Powerful Illustration Shows Exactly What's Wrong With How the West Talks About Ebola

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Don Lemon, blackamericaweb.com: Don Lemon Says It's Time To Think About Limiting Access From Ebola Ravaged Countries Into The U.S.

Judith Matloff, Columbia Journalism Review: Reporters struggle to stay safe covering Ebola

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Phillip Morris, the Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Love and porous borders in the Time of Ebola

James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: Church offers ray of hope in Dallas Ebola case

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Sam Riddle, Michigan Citizen: Ebola and racism

Cristine Russell, Columbia Journalism Review: Here's how to produce strong Ebola stories

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Matthew Watkins, Dallas Morning News: John Wiley Price, county health director emphatically defend Dallas' response to Ebola

70% of Blacks Say Gays Sin, but 40% Back Same-Sex Marriage

"African Americans remain less likely than white Americans to support same-sex marriage, as has been the case for several years," Claire Gecewicz and Michael Lipka reported Tuesday for the Pew Research Center.

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"But at the same time, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that a majority of blacks — a significantly bigger share than among whites — say that wedding-related businesses, such as caterers or florists, should be required to provide wedding services to gay and lesbian couples.

"Our aggregated 2014 polling has found that about four-in-ten black Americans (42%) support same-sex marriage, 11 percentage points below the comparable figure among whites (53%). Meanwhile, seven-in-ten African Americans (70%) say that homosexual behavior is a sin, compared with 47% of whites who say this, according to our new survey.

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"On the same survey, we asked respondents for the first time whether they think businesses that provide wedding services should be allowed to refuse to serve same-sex couples for religious reasons. On this issue, blacks stand out as especially likely to say that such businesses should be required to provide the same services to gay and lesbian couples as they would to all other customers. About six-in-ten African Americans (61%) say wedding-related businesses should be required to serve same-sex couples, compared with 45% of whites who say the same.

"Why do African Americans think wedding related businesses should be required to provide services to same-sex couples even though many harbor reservations about such unions? This may partly reflect empathy among African Americans for the perceived discrimination that gays and lesbians face in American society. . . ."

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Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Cheerios ad another step forward for gay equality

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: We've reached the inevitable tipping point on gay marriage

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No Spike in Ferguson Voting Registration After All

"There was no dramatic spike in new voter registrations in Ferguson, St. Louis County election officials said Tuesday," Nicholas J.C. Pistor reported for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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"The county's election board had previously told some news outlets that 3,287 people were registered to vote in Ferguson since the unrest there began. Tuesday, officials said that number is actually just 128.

"Ferguson's total population is about 21,000.

"Rita Days, the county's election director, said the discrepancy came from a check of the wrong database. The original search, she said, included voters in Ferguson who had modified their registration in some way (address, death, et cetera) — not just newly register voters.

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" 'We have looked at it by hand and we now have the right numbers,' Days said. . . ."

On Oct. 2, Yamiche Alcindor of USA Today reported, "Days said her office, as well as interested organizations, have long stressed the importance of voting to community members. Despite many efforts though, there has been little interest in past elections. During local elections in April, just 1,484 of the 12,096 registered voters in Ferguson cast ballots.

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" 'The apathy regarding voters is rampant in this county' she said. 'I mean if we get 10 or 15 (percent of registered voters to vote), that's good.'

"This time, demonstrators are vowing it will be different.

"Community leaders plan to mobilize voters during the upcoming election and ensure that people make it to the polls, said Anthony Shahid, one of the most visible activists who has been protesting in Ferguson since Brown's death. He hopes volunteers from other cities will help.

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" 'We want to have a big rally,' Shahid said. 'You have to get people excited to make people understand that this is history. And it is history — no different than when President Obama came into office.'

"For Shahid, the election will test whether anger over Brown's death will translate into long-term political change. . . ."

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[Meanwhile, Margaret Gillerman and Valerie Schremp Hahn reported for the Post-Dispatch early Thursday, "Another police-involved fatal shooting of a teenager, this time in south St. Louis not far from the Missouri Botanical Garden, led to hours of protests overnight Wednesday and into Thursday morning as an angry crowd gathered quickly when news spread across social media. . . .]

Ruben Castaneda, WAMU-FM, Washington: Ferguson Police Could Take Lessons From Prince George's County (Md.)

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Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star: Voting should be big part of national forum on race relations, community policing tied to Ferguson, Mo., unrest

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Small Town Tyrannies Preserve Race Inequities

Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Ferguson sees lots of protesters but few new voters

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Islamic State Jihadists Put Al Jazeera on Blacklist

"ISIS has issued new rules for journalists working in areas under their control, according to the site Syria Deeply," Brian Flood reported Tuesday for TVNewser. "The 11 rules were established directly by ISIS for any journalists 'who wish to continue working in the governorate.'

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"All of the rules are said to be non-negotiable. No. 4 stands out, as Al Jazeera is considered on the 'blacklist.' . . ."

Yasser Allawi reported for Syria Deeply, "The new rules drove many journalists to flee either to other parts of Syria or neighboring countries.

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"But some chose to stay and abide by the new restrictions. Amer, a journalist in Deir Ezzor, said while it was a risk to stay and keep working, he was motivated to document events taking place in ISIS territory. He felt that someone had to stay behind to report from within, to share the news with the world. . . ."

Meanwhile, on Fox News Channel in the United States, "Last night, Greta Van Susteren had an offer for Muslim leaders against extremism," Jordan Chariton reported Tuesday for TVNewser.

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" 'I have a message for Muslim leaders,' Van Susteren said. 'If they hate this stereotype [that all Muslims are terrorists], they need to help stop it,' she continued, urging leaders to denounce Islamic extremists. 'I will give any Muslim leader — of national or international stature — the platform, right here on 'On the Record,' to condemn Islamic extremism and to make a calls to arms of every Muslim leader of every mosque to do the same. . . . ”

A. Peter Bailey, TriceEdneyWire.com: The "Mainstream" Press Protects Chicken Hawks

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David Bauder, Associated Press: CBS Takes Huge Risk, Sends Reporter Undercover To Syria

Michael Getler, PBS: 'We Hear You' Is Not What Viewers Wanted to Hear (Sept. 30)

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Emil Guillermo blog, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: On Obama's bombing of Syria and our "non-war" war (Sept. 23)

Jared Malsin, Columbia Journalism Review: Why it's getting harder to report on Syria (Sept. 22)

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Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: A war on terror, wolves and rats is where America finds itself

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Obama steps up

Ruben Rosario, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.: At home, a delicate battle vs. militant recruiting

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FCC Chairman Says Diversity Fight Has Moved Online

"FCC chairman Tom Wheeler signaled in a speech Tuesday (Oct. 7) that while the FCC will continue to push for diverse voices in TV and radio station ownership, the new front in that fight is online," John Eggerton reported for Broadcasting & Cable.

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"According to prepared remarks for the annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications lecture in Washington, Wheeler said that 'facilities ownership is less critical to diverse voices than ever before.' Instead, he said, 'the fight for the diversity of viewpoints and the protection of fundamental democratic values has leapt to the Internet.'

"He said that while it used to require a broadcast license, or a barrel of ink, to insure free flow of information, '[t]oday you just need an Internet connection. That connection must be able to lead you and your opinions to the world, as well as bring the thoughts and ideas of the world to you — both without interference.'

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"He said that is why the new network neutrality rules are so important. He said he was treating the rules as the most important decision he will make during his tenure. 'The opportunity the Internet offers for making everyone a publisher with their own outlet to the world — literally the world — is the greatest advance in democratic values in history,' he said. 'But it only works if the Internet remains open.'. . ."

Editorial, New York Times: Silicon Valley's Diversity Problem

Stuart Elliott, New York Times: At Ad Week, a Push to Make Diversity a Reality Beyond Conference Discussions (Oct. 2)

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Jose Marquez, Fox News Latino: President Obama can lead the diversity effort among his allies in Silicon Valley

Josh Stearns, Huffington Post: We Need a Media That Tells All of Our Stories

Florida Sportswriter Resigns After Plagiarism Charge

"A Florida State beat writer for the Tallahassee Democrat has resigned after she was found to have plagiarized from a freelancer's story last week," Diana Moskovitz reported Oct. 2 for Deadspin.

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"Natalie Pierre and the Democrat announced the resignation today, and both did so in ways that left some questions unanswered.

"The Democrat published a very short and dry article about what happened.

" 'Earlier this week, it came to our attention that a story in the Tallahassee Democrat and on Tallahassee.com by Florida State sports reporter Natalie Pierre appeared similar to a story written by freelance writer Tim Linafelt.

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" 'After investigating further, we concluded that it was too similar to be pure coincidence, that pieces – at least — of the story were plagiarized. Pierre resigned and no longer will report on behalf of our news organization.

Pierre gave her own statement on her website. In it, she profusely apologizes but also avoids specifics about the story in question. . . .

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" 'After more than three years covering Florida State athletics for the Tallahassee Democrat I resigned from my role on Wednesday, Oct. 1, after I was informed that words that were not my own were published in the Democrat and on Tallahassee.com with my byline. While I did not intentionally plagiarize another journalist's work, I take full responsibility for some of freelance writer Tim Linafelt's words appearing in my story last week.' . . ."

Pierre's apology has been removed from her website, but it remains on the Internet.

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Short Takes

Before NBC chose Chuck Todd for the job, "NBC News president Deborah Turness held negotiations with Jon Stewart about hosting Meet the Press, according to three senior television sources with knowledge of the talks," Gabriel Sherman reported Wednesday for New York magazine. "One source explained that NBC was prepared to offer Stewart virtually 'anything' to bring him over. . . ."

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Phillip Martin of WGBH-FM in Boston was among those accepting 98 national Edward R. Murrow Awards in 13 categories from the Radio Television News Directors Association in New York on Monday. Martin, who won for investigative reporting, large-market radio, had traveled from Boston to New York to East Asia to explore the modern slave trade of human trafficking. In other awards, NPR won in the news series category for "Crime in Latin America (audio) "and KNAU, Arizona Public Radio in Flagstaff, won in the news series and writing categories for "Building Hope In Haiti (audio)." List of winners.

"Bob Herbert's absence from the opinion page of The New York Times since signing off in March 2011 is still palpable. His admirers miss his moral clarity, relentless truth-telling and unbending sense of fair play," Tony Norman wrote Tuesday for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Norman also wrote, "But there's no sense in speaking of Mr. Herbert as if he’s fallen off the edge of the Earth. This week, 'Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America,' his first book of original reporting since abandoning his column, hits the shelves. It goes without saying that 'Losing Our Way' is every bit as vital, essential and hard-hitting as his columns. . . . I’ll have the privilege of moderating a panel discussion with Mr. Herbert as he kicks off his nationwide book tour here. . . ."

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Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, responded to criticism that he is not active on social media, telling blogger Steve Buttry Tuesday, "One of the biggest criticisms aimed at my generation of editors is that we created a priesthood, that we decided who was a journalist and who was not. If you hadn't done cops and courts you weren't a journalist, etc. That characterization was right on. We deserved the hit. As I observe the criticism nowadays, you will forgive me for noting that it sounds like a new priesthood is being created, with new rules for entry. Don't take that as saying I should not tweet more. I should. Just a warning that each generation of journalists seems so certain they know what it takes to be a journalist. . . ."

In next week's episode of "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.," entitled "Roots of Freedom," which premieres Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on PBS, Gates "is joined by Academy Award-winner Ben Affleck, dancer, choreographer and actress Khandi Alexander, and political and civic leader Benjamin Jealous — whose families shared a commitment to fighting for civil rights," according to an announcement Wednesday. In 2008, Jealous, a former journalist and former president of the NAACP, told Michel Martin of NPR's "Tell Me More" that he was the product of an interracial marriage but considered himself black.

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"The Secret Service is facing a huge amount of scrutiny, so now might be a good time for them to double-check everything they're doing — particularly when dealing with the media," Nia-Malika Henderson wrote Monday for the Washington Post. "They didn't do that on Monday. An agent working on a Wisconsin event where first lady Michelle Obama will be present told a staffer for the gubernatorial campaign of Mary Burke (D) that photojournalists would need to provide several pieces of information for security checks and clearance — including information about the journalists' racial background. The Secret Service now says that was a mistake. . . ."

"After two years as a multimedia reporter for KNBC in Los Angeles, Jacob Rascon is moving on to NBC News as a Dallas-based correspondent," Veronica Villafañe reported Tuesday for her Media Moves column.

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"The St. Louis American received a total of 30 awards for excellence in journalism, advertising, design and community service from Missouri Press Association, including its highest level of recognition, the Gold Medal award for best newspaper in its class," K. Michael Jones reported Oct. 1 for the American. It was the second consecutive year that the black-press outlet won the Gold Medal in its category [PDF], weeklies under 3,000 circulation.

"South Korean prosecutors on Wednesday indicted a Japanese journalist on charges he defamed South Korea's president by reporting rumors that she was absent for seven hours during the April ferry disaster because she was with a man, according to the journalist's employer and the Japanese government," Foster Klug reported Wednesday for the Associated Press.

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In Mexico, "Reporter Miguel Ortega Bonilla is requesting protection for himself and his family after being threatened and abducted for several hours on 5 October in Teziutlán, in the central state of Puebla, as he was about to cover a peace march in the neighbouring town of Chignautla," Reporters Without Borders reported Wednesday. "As four men forced him into car in the centre of Teziutlán, Ortega managed to send his family a WhatsApp messaging saying, 'Help, red alert, I’m being kidnapped.' Thereafter the family spent seven tense hours before learning that he had been released alive. . . ."

"Ethiopia's federal supreme court yesterday sentenced three magazine owners in absentia to more than three years in prison on charges of 'inciting violent revolts, printing and distributing unfounded rumours and conspiring to unlawfully abolish the constitutional system of the country,' " Reporters Without Borders reported on Wednesday. "The three, who fled the country when the prosecution was mooted, are Addis Guday publisher Endalkachew Tesfaye, Lomi publisher Gizaw Taye and Fact publisher Fatuma Nuriya. Their jail terms range from three years and three months to three years and eleven months. . . ."

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