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Press are denied access to new immigration “tent courts” along the border, where asylum seekers wait for their cases to be heard in a secretive process. (See more about PEN America’s calls to the Trump Administration to grant press access to detention camps and about our upcoming programming for Los Angeles Press Freedom Week on press access at the border). Google announces upcoming change to its search algorithms to better highlight original reporting. Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Justin Fairfax brings $400 million defamation case against CBS for its reporting on his alleged sexual assaults against two women. Public radio story details how colleges often mishandle racial tensions on campuses, highlighting PEN America’s campus free speech project. (Learn more about our campus free speech project).
Nora Benavidez, Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs

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


Google Says a Change in Its Algorithm Will Highlight “Original Reporting”
On Thursday, Google said that it has made changes to its search algorithm to give an advantage to “original reporting” that would be reinforced by changes in other guidelines. Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president of news, said the changes to the company’s search guidelines would help it to “better recognize original reporting” and make it more visible on the internet.

Tent Courts Set Up in Texas for Immigration Hearings Closed to Media
Federal officials this week began operating tent-style facilities in Laredo, Texas, and a handful of other border cities to ease the strain on immigration courts, part of a sweeping set of moves intended to slow the flow of migrant families across the border.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Virginia Sues CBS for Defamation, Seeking $400 Million
In a rare legal broadside by a politician against a major news organization, Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax of Virginia sued CBS on Thursday for defamation, saying the network’s news division smeared him by airing interviews with two women who accused the lawmaker of sexual assault. CBS News in a statement said: “We stand by our reporting and we will vigorously defend this lawsuit.”

How Colleges Are Mishandling Racial Tensions on Campus
Incidents of racial bias, racism, and hate crimes are on the rise at colleges. The Anti-Defamation League reports a seven percent increase in cases of white supremacy materials being found on college campuses—from 292 in the 2018 academic year to 313 in 2019. These controversies put administrators in a dicey position, seemingly having to simultaneously protect free speech and protect students from racial harassment. 


Russia Raids Office and Homes of Navalny Allies
In a nationwide crackdown to prevent discontent in Moscow from spreading, Russian security forces on Thursday raided and searched hundreds of homes and offices of activists across the country who were affiliated with the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny. The raids also included homes of activists involved with an organization that monitors elections.

Turkish Court Orders Release of Former Cumhuriyet Journalists
A top court ordered the release of five former journalists from the Cumhuriyet newspaper. The journalists had been serving near-five year sentences for allegedly aiding and abetting terror groups. Activists say they were punished for their coverage of opposition parties and groups, as well as of the Gullen movement blamed for a failed 2016 coup attempt.

China’s Turbulent Relationship With Film Festivals Explained
In 2019, five international film festivals have so far ended up tangling with China’s content overlords, who are on unusually high alert ahead of a particularly sensitive political anniversary for the ruling Communist Party in October—the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

Saudi Activist and PEN America Awardee Honored at RSF Press Freedom Awards
The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders Thursday granted its 2019 Press Freedom Prize to three female journalists, including Saudi Arabia’s Eman al-Nafjan. Nafjan is part of a group of activists who’ve led the campaign against the Saudi ban on women driving. She along with Nouf Abdulaziz and Loujain Al-Hathloul were honored this year with the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write award.

Arrested Tanzanian Journalist Tells Court His Health Is Declining
The health of a Tanzanian journalist, allegedly arrested for political reasons as part of a continued crackdown on freedom of expression in the country, has been deteriorating behind bars, he and his lawyer said during a court appearance. His case is the most recent in Tanzania to face scrutiny from the international community and rights groups, who have accused President John Magufuli of systematically cracking down on critics and the press.

DARE is a project of PEN America’s #LouderTogether campaign, bringing you a daily-curated roundup of the most important free expression-related news from the U.S. and abroad. An article’s inclusion does not imply endorsement by PEN America. We welcome your comments. Send your feedback and story suggestions to DARE@pen.org