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Bob Woodward announced as PEN America Literary Service Award recipient for 2019, and Scholastic CEO Richard Robinson will be Publisher Honoree; honors to be conveyed at PEN America Literary Gala hosted by John Oliver. Spread of disinformation by U.S. actors is rising as America struggles to define the boundaries of truth and reporting. Hedge fund-backed Digital First Media, known for deep cuts at local news outlets it buys, makes bid to acquire Gannett, one of country’s largest newspaper groups. Stephen King helps save local Maine newspaper’s regional book reviews through social media efforts to protect local news. Iowa Congressman Steve King faces action after making white supremacist remarks, as Democrats and Republicans rally for unity against ‘bigotry.’ -Nora Benavidez, Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs

The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today

U.S.

Bob Woodward to Receive PEN Literary Service Award
The 2019 PEN America Literary Service Award will be given to Bob Woodward, The Washington Post editor known most recently for “Fear: Trump in the White House,” one of the biggest political books of 2018 with nearly two million copies sold.
NEW YORK TIMES

Fake News as ‘Moral Imperative’? Democrats’ Alabama Move Hints at Ugly 2020
In addition to giving Russia new ammunition in its defense against election-meddling allegations, the progressives’ political caper in Alabama sent a chilling message to the rest of us: Reality-warping attacks are now coming from inside the house.
NEW YORK TIMES

Hedge Fund-Backed Media Group Makes Offer to Buy USA Today Publisher Gannett
Digital Media First, a hedge fund-backed media group, announced that it has made an offer for Gannett Co., the publisher of USA Today. The Denver-based Digital Media First has purchased struggling newspapers in the recent past, mostly resulting in cost-cutting and major layoffs.
THE HILL

After Stephen King Tweeted at a Maine Paper for Cutting Book Reviews, It Gave Readers a ‘Scary Good’ Offer
The Portland Press Herald responded to Stephen King with a challenge: If he could get his followers to buy 100 digital subscriptions, it would bring back the local reviews. In less than 48 hours, The Press Herald doubled its goal.
NEW YORK TIMES

Iowa Republican Steve King Faces Party Action over ‘White Supremacist’ Remark
The top House Republican promised on Sunday to take action against the Iowa congressman Steve King, over his controversial comments about white supremacy and white nationalism.
THE GUARDIAN

 
Global

Sentsov Finishes New Novel, Awaits Publication of Short Stories, Film Based on His Script *PEN Case List: Learn more
Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, who was illegally convicted and jailed in Russia, continues to write. At the end of December 2018 he completed a new novel. In a letter he wrote: “I don’t intend to lose heart or start whining. … And I am not going to stop either my creative or social endeavors.”
KYIV POST

Dearest Arundhati Roy: Shahidul Alam Reflects on His Time in Prison *PEN Case List: Learn more
The Bangladeshi photographer was charged with criticizing his country on Facebook and spent more than 100 days behind bars. Now freed, he replies to the Indian novelist who wrote to him in jail.
THE GUARDIAN

Bengali Poet Claims Freedom of Expression under Growing Threat
“We are increasingly moving into an intolerant society [in Bangladesh] where some people will always stop you from speaking your mind and take away your right to freedom of speech,” said Bengali poet Srijato Bandyopadhya.
BUSINESS STANDARD

The Internet, but Not as We Know It: Life Online in China, Cuba, India, and Russia
More than half of the world’s population is now online, but that does not mean we all see the same thing. From being filtered by the government to being delivered by post, the internet can vary enormously depending on where you live. Here are four illustrated examples.
THE GUARDIAN

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