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Scattered reports of students being punished by school administrators for participating in nationwide 17-minute walkout protesting gun violence. Hedge fund owners of Denver Post take another slice out of newsroom staff as stripping of local journalism continues. Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed purchase of Tribune Media assessed as question of how much control any one company should have over country’s airwaves. ProPublica’s significant correction on aspects of its reporting about newly designated CIA Director noted for transparency that differentiates responsible journalistic outlets. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Yesterday, they walked out of class. Now, they’re forced to stay after school
As long as the consequences don’t exceed what would be typical for an infraction equivalent to cutting class, schools can discipline students, says the ACLU. Josh Bell, an ACLU spokesman, said the organization is in the process of vetting reports from students on whether anyone has been handed an excessive punishment.

Is this strip-mining or journalism? ‘Sobs, gasps, expletives’ over latest Denver Post layoffs.
“The room went silent—we were blindsided by the numbers” said photographer Aaron Ontiveroz of the shocking layoffs. The newsroom would be below 70 positions: a startling drop from a time not much more than a decade ago when the Post and its rival, the Rocky Mountain News, together had more than 600 journalists.

Approving the Sinclair-Tribune deal would be indefensible
“This deal has drawn fire from left-of-center critics because Sinclair’s owners have used their stations to advance their own (conservative) agenda. But Sinclair’s political leanings are not the problem here. The real issue is whether any company should be able to amass control over so much of the public airwaves.”

ProPublica retracts key claim against Trump pick for CIA director
ProPublica has retracted part of an article alleging Gina Haspel oversaw the waterboarding of an Al Qaeda suspect at a so-called agency “black site” in Thailand. “We at ProPublica hold government officials responsible for their missteps, and we must be equally accountable,” editor-in-chief Stephen Engelberg said in a statement.


Killing of Rio de Janeiro Councilwoman Critical of Police Rattles Brazil
An outspoken critic and human rights activist, Councilwoman Marielle Franco’s death comes amid rising concern over increased military intervention in Rio de Janeiro. United Nations officials have issued a statement expressing “profound concern” about the intervention, which they warned could lead to human rights violations.

Meet The Activist Who Uncovered The Russian Troll Factory Named In The Mueller Probe
Internet activist Lyudmila Savchuk spent two months working undercover at the Russian troll farm, Internet Research Agency, creating fake social media accounts and writing blog posts meant to sow divisions in the U.S. and turn Russians against Americans.

Slovak PM Robert Fico resigns
The end of Fico’s often controversial term in office comes after investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová were killed in late February, which led to massive countrywide street protests and the revelation that two people in the government had ties to the Calabrian crime syndicate known as the ’Ndrangheta.

Cameroon’s private media defy ban on political debate
Cameroon has ordered the suspension of radio and TV broadcasts of political debates ahead of elections on March 25. Private media are ignoring the ban saying it’s an attack on press freedom. “We won’t accept limiting freedom of speech when Cameroon wants to be fully democratic,” said radio presenter Jean Jacques Ola Bebe.

Prague protests: Thousands of Czechs take to the streets after President attacks media
As he was sworn in for his second term, President Milos Zeman used his inauguration speech to accuse public broadcaster Czech Television and other journalists of favoritism and bias. He previously prompted controversy after he brandished a replica gun with the words “for journalists” inscribed on it during a press conference.

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