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State Department excludes its press corps from a briefing call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and says it won’t distribute a transcript or list of attendees. Bill moves through Florida state legislature that would make it easier to ban books from public school libraries and curricula. Amazon removes books that spread misinformation about vaccines and autism from its marketplace. PEN America’s Suzanne Nossel and Jonathan Friedman react to President Trump’s announcement about an executive order to cut federal funding for colleges that don’t protect free speech on campus. PEN America announces winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, to be presented to Tommy Orange for ‘There There’ on April 7. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

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


State Department Bars Press Corps from Pompeo Briefing, Won’t Release List of Attendees
The State Department said it would not be distributing a transcript or list of attendees from a briefing call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held that evening—a call from which the department’s press corps was excluded and only “faith-based media” allowed.

Will Florida Legislators Make It Easier to Ban Books in Schools? We’ll Soon Find Out.
The new legislation aims to prevent school boards from choosing hearing officers, and grant appeals beyond the local level. It also would make it a felony to buy any books that contain content deemed pornographic under state obscenity statutes, or otherwise determined “not acceptable.”

Censorship or Social Responsibility? Amazon Removes Some Books Peddling Vaccine Misinformation.
Amazon has now joined other companies navigating the line between doing business and censoring it, in an age when, experts say, misleading claims about health and science have a real impact on public health.

Why Trump’s Campus Free Speech Order Is a Big Risk
“Critics predict that the proposed order risks meddling in a university’s autonomy or politicizing academic freedom. … Unless his proposed decree is carefully and narrowly crafted, the President’s purported effort to promote campus speech may well suppress more speech than it protects.”

Tommy Orange Wins PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel
The author of “There There” has received the PEN/Hemingway award for “distinguished” new novel. PEN/Hemingway judges called “There There” a “devastatingly beautiful novel, as acutely attuned to our current cultural and political condition as it is to the indelible legacy of violence that brought us here.”


Concern Raised over South Korean Treatment of Bloomberg Reporter
International journalists’ organizations are criticizing the status of press freedom in South Korea after the country’s ruling party singled out a Bloomberg reporter with South Korean nationality over what it claimed was a “borderline traitorous” article insulting President Moon Jae-in, resulting in threats to the reporter’s safety.

Putin Signs Bill Punishing Those Who Insult the State
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed bills restricting online media and making a criminal of anyone who insults the state—laws that critics see as part of Kremlin efforts to stifle criticism and tighten media control.

Press Freedom: Indian Government Withdraws Funding
The Indian government has stopped advertising in two major Kashmiri dailies, taking away a vital source of revenue. Newspaper editors hit back, printing blank front pages to illustrate the pressure they feel being placed on them by New Delhi.

‘They Think They Can Silence Us.’ How Nicaragua Is Waging a War on Journalists
“Political activists have been sentenced to hundreds of years in prison. In December Miguel Mora, the owner of news channel 100% Noticias, was arrested along with his news director, Lucía Pineda. Both were charged with terrorism and fomenting violence through their coverage.”

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