New Jersey sets aside millions to buttress local news coverage. ABC News Chief Investigative correspondent Brian Ross suspended over botched story on Trump Russia investigation. Capital Gazette gunman had sent threatening letter to the paper, shedding light on motives. Trump declines request to fly White House flags at half mast to recognize slain journalists. Federal inquiry into Facebook data sharing expands scope. -Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer

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

U.S.

NJ Governor to Sign Bill Dedicating $5M to Help Local Media
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is approving the Civic Info Bill, which dedicates $5 million to strengthen local media outlets in the state. The bill also creates the Civic Information Consortium — a unique nonprofit developed with five universities — to promote the spread of news and information throughout the state.
THE HILL

ABC Parts Ways With Investigative Reporter Brian Ross
Brian Ross, the chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, is leaving the network seven months after he botched a report involving President Trump and the Russia investigation, a mistake that led to a rebuke from the White House and concern about self-inflicted damage by news organizations already facing scrutiny.
NEW YORK TIMES

Annapolis Shooting Suspect Wanted to ‘Kill Every Person’ in Newsroom, Letter States
The man suspected of fatally shooting five people in an Annapolis newsroom sent a letter to the Capital Gazette’s lawyer announcing that he planned to go there “with the objective of killing every person present.”
NEW YORK TIMES

Trump Declines Request to Lower US Flags After Capital Gazette Shootings
Trump denied a request from Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley to lower American flags in honor of the five victims of the deadly shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper. Buckley said the shooting was an attack on the press and freedom of speech, and is “just as important as any other tragedy.”
THE HILL

Facebook’s Disclosures Under Scrutiny as Federal Agencies Join Probe of Tech Giant’s Role in Sharing Data with Cambridge Analytica
A federal investigation into Facebook’s sharing of data with Cambridge Analytica has broadened to focus on the actions and statements of the tech giant and now involves multiple agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission.
WASHINGTON POST

 
Global

As Mob Lynchings Fueled by WhatsApp Messages Sweep India, Authorities Struggle to Combat Fake News
Five people were killed by a mob in India after rumors spread on social media that they were child traffickers, the latest in a string of lynchings tied to fake social media messages that have left officials stunned and grappling with ways to control the rising violence.
WASHINGTON POST

Ming Pao Staff Assoc. Decry Results of Internal Police Investigation After Reporter ‘Assaulted’ During 2016 Unrest
The staff association at Hong Kong broadsheet Ming Pao has decried the results of a police investigation after a complaint alleging that officers assaulted its reporter during the 2016 Mong Kok unrest was found to be “not pursuable” and “not fully substantiated.”
HONG KONG FREE PRESS

VPNs Given the Axe in Uganda as Social Media Tax Kicks in
The Uganda Communications Commission has ordered telecom companies to tax or block virtual private networks (VPNs) as more people turn to them to access social media without paying the new levies that came into effect this month.
CNET

Twitter Blocks Hamas, Hezbollah Accounts Following Israeli Pressure
Twitter has closed or blocked some 35 Hamas and Hezbollah accounts in Israel. Two weeks ago, Israel’s public security and strategic affairs minister sent a letter to Twitter saying that it has been “largely irresponsive to requests by the Israeli authorities to remove terrorist content and shut down terrorist accounts.”
HAARETZ

Arrested Yemeni Reporter Critical of Coalition is Released
A Yemeni journalist critical of the Saudi-led coalition waging war on the country’s Shiite rebels was released Monday, just hours after his detention in the port city of Aden.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

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