A Quick Update from Pressing.

My life is changing, but this newsletter isn't going anywhere.

I’m Scott Nover. Welcome back to Pressing, a newsletter about press freedom. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so here and receive this letter in your inbox every Tuesday morning as well as special features for paid subscribers.


In June, I left a full-time production job at The Atlantic and was on my own. Around the same time, my primary editor in The Atlantic’s newsroom, whom I had worked with on a consistent freelance basis, left too—which meant that I no longer had a regular home for my writing and reporting. I set out to freelance — really freelance — and get enough writing experience to maybe, possible, hopefully, someday be employed as a full-time reporter.

That was easier said than done. I had some experience working with The Washington Post Magazine, and a consistent editing gig at The DC Line, a local news outlet, but really no substantive relationships with editors or an understanding of how to do what I had set out to do. But the biggest frustration early on was that editors wouldn’t respond to me. I had ideas, but very few people that wanted to work with me. Mostly, I was frustrated that I couldn’t write when I wanted to write.

In the back of my head, I knew I wanted to write more about press freedom and media law. Some of the most impactful stories I’ve written had been about physical threats and legal battles involving journalists. I just wanted to learn more about this world into which I had only dipped my toes.

So, between that need to write and the tickling thought that I should dive deeper into press freedom, I started Pressing. It’s been a great decision. I’ve had fun, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve met amazing people and I’m thrilled for what’s to come.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a job. A real job. A real-life reporting job. In some ways, it meant that everything I had done until that point made sense. I left my production job for a reason. My months of freelancing, ambling about Washington, D.C. — working sporadically, building sources and connections on my own dime, hoping for consistent or higher-paying or higher-profile work — had paid off.

I’m now working as a reporter for Adweek, covering social media platforms. I just started last week and I’m thrilled to be in full swing, learning to cover this new beat at a fascinating time for the tech industry and for the country. I have a lot to learn, a lot of people to meet and a lot of work to do — but it feels good. I’m happy.

Here’s even better news: Pressing isn’t going anywhere. I’ll keep writing posts for free and paid subscribers, bringing you press freedom and media law news and, when needed, my analysis. Could the format or frequency change? It could, but I’m still trying to figure that out. Will the focus change? No, but I’ll be zeroing in on social media in my day job, so don’t be surprised if there’s more in here about the role of tech platforms here forward.

For now, I’m taking a short break from Pressing until I feel more settled in my new job — plus, I have a vacation to London planned for this week (that I booked a long time before I knew I’d have a job)! So, if you don’t get a newsletter from me in the next couple of weeks, that’s why. Pressing should be back at the end of February.

Until then, thank you so much for reading and for your support. As always, if you’d like to upgrade to a paid subscription and support the work that I do, the link is right here.

— S

Trouble for American Journalists

That and more in the latest edition of Pressing.

I’m Scott Nover. Welcome back to Pressing, a newsletter about press freedom. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so here and receive this letter in your inbox every Tuesday morning as well as special features for paid subscribers.

This is the 32nd issue of Pressing and it’s great to have you with me. Please send me feedback, thoughts, suggestions, and tips at sgnover@gmail.com.


The Latest from Austin Tice’s Mother

Marc and Debra Tice know their son Austin is alive and they know he is being held in Syria. While they have expressed confidence in the Trump administration’s ability and willingness to bring Austin — a journalist who has been missing for more than seven years — home to the United States, they think someone in the administration is getting in the way of these efforts.

“Apparently, somewhere in the chain, there is a senior U.S. government official who is hesitating or stalling,” Debra Tice told reporters yesterday. “There is no possible way for me to understand why anyone would defy the president’s will and choose to leave our beloved son, who put his life on the line serving this country three tours as a Marine Corps officer, waiting in captivity instead of taking the necessary steps to get this critical discussion underway.”

“Whoever you are, stand down or stand up for Austin,” she added.

Debra Tice would not say more out of concern for her son’s safety and the diplomatic negotiations under way to bring him home. Still, she maintains that she and her husband are “reasonably hopeful” that Austin will be released soon.

On April 29, 2020, the Tice family will host the second annual “Night Out for Austin Tice,” where participating restaurants contribute proceeds to the effort to free Austin.


What’s Happening to Glenn Greenwald?

Last Tuesday, the Brazilian government filed charges against American journalist Glenn Greenwald for “cybercrimes,” a bogus charge that’s been universally decried by press advocates in the days since.

In my Friday essay, I explained what’s happening and why.

Subscribe to the paid edition of Pressing to read this essay and get more exclusive updates in your inbox.


My Trip to CPJ

Last Wednesday, I went up to New York to meet with the fine folks at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). I presented to CPJ staff about Pressing, took questions, and exchanged ideas about newsletter writing. If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to The Torch, their free weekly newsletter, by clicking here. Thanks Ahmed Zidan and the whole CPJ team for hosting me last week!


Philip Jacobson Released from Indonesian Prison

Last week, American environmental reporter Philip Jacobson, who works for nonprofit news site Mongabay, was detained in Indonesia for allegedly violating his visa. He was released Saturday after three days in prison. Originally, he faced up to five years in prison on criminal charges.

“Indonesia requires visiting foreign journalists to obtain a journalist visa, a cumbersome and lengthy process that allows the authorities to question an applicant’s reporting plan, deny a visa without explanation or take no action at all,” a New York Times report explained.

The Indonesian government maintains that they did not detain Jacobson as a consequence of his journalism, but press freedom advocates have raised concerns. “Phillip Jacobson’s totally disproportionate arrest clearly amounts to intimidation,” said Daniel Bastard of Reporter’s Without Borders in a statement. “Immigration officials have massively overstepped their powers.”

More on this:


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Mary Louise Kelly vs. Mike Pompeo

Few reporters are as respected as NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should’ve known that before smearing her in public.

According to Kelly, Pompeo was enraged that she asked him whether he owed Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology. Pompeo claimed that he never agreed to discuss Ukraine in the interview—just Iran. “I confirmed with your staff… last night that I would talk about Iran and Ukraine,” Kelly pushed back, according to NPR’s published transcript. (The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi acquired the emails that supported Kelly’s version of the story.)

Afterward, Pompeo allegedly berated Kelly and cursed at her. He also implored her to point to Ukraine on a map, which she successfully did. Then the Secretary released a bizarre public statement, complained that this tirade was off the record, a pact to which Kelly never agreed. He also claimed that Kelly pointed to Bangladesh on the map and not to Ukraine. (Kelly has a master’s in European Studies from Cambridge.) Here’s the statement:

Last night, the State Department removed NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen from Pompeo’s plane. She was the scheduled radio pooler — a rotational position — for his European trip. This move is being seen as retribution for Kelly going public about Pompeo’s behavior.


Thanks for reading Pressing today and always. Like what you read and want to support me? Consider a paid membership here. Otherwise, I’ll see you next Tuesday! Send tips and feedback to sgnover@gmail.com.

Calamity in the Capitol

Restrictions on reporters, the White House briefing, the National Archives and more.

I’m Scott Nover. Welcome back to Pressing, a newsletter about press freedom. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so here and receive this letter in your inbox every Tuesday morning as well as special features for paid subscribers.

This is the 30th issue of Pressing and it’s great to have you with me. Please send me feedback, thoughts, suggestions, and tips at sgnover@gmail.com.


Programming Note: I’ll be in New York today, chatting about Pressing with some of the fine people at the Committee to Protect Journalists. They have a great weekly newsletter called “The Torch,” which you should subscribe to here!


Calamity in the Capitol

“News coverage of President Trump’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate began last week with a Republican senator calling a CNN reporter “a liberal hack” in the halls of Congress and laughing about it later that night during a Fox News interview,” Michael Grynbaum wrote for The New York Times. “Things haven’t improved much since.”

The incident in which Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) called CNN reporter Manu Raju “a liberal hack” was the tip of the iceberg. Inside the U.S. Capitol, structural barriers were propped up to limit the movement of journalists around the Capitol during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Even C-SPAN is pissed off, if you can believe that.

Journalists, photographers, videographers, news organizations, press freedom advocacy groups, and even some members of Congress are upset by the new restrictions, which hinder the ability of reporters to do their jobs and cover the third ever presidential impeachment trial. I wrote about it for my Friday essay available to paid Pressing subscribers, which you can read here.


Remember the White House Press Briefing?

I sure do.

For The Washington Post Magazine, I wrote about the death of the press briefing under President Trump. The Democratic candidates have promised to bring it back if they win, but is there any point doing so under the Trump administration? Either way, it’s unlikely to happen. Here’s my dispatch, which was in the magazine this weekend.


New: RCFP Expands Legal Support Initiative to Five States

In a new statement this morning, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press announced it is expanding its pro-bono Local Legal Initiative to Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Through the initiative, which was announced after RCFP received a $10 million grant from the Knight Foundation last year, the RCFP will employ a lawyer in each of the five states “to help local media defend against legal threats and lawsuits, assist with public records and court access efforts, and provide pre-publication review and other legal services.”

According to the release, 30 states, regions and territories applied through an open proposal process. Five were selected in this first round.

“The enthusiasm and responses we received from across the country make clear that there is a significant need for pro bono legal assistance for local journalists nationwide,” said Katie Townsend, legal director for the Reporters Committee. “At a time when important local reporting is routinely stymied, we stand ready to help journalists and news organizations overcome the legal roadblocks they too often face.”


Do you love Pressing and want to support it? Do you want to read a little more every week? If you are able and interested, please consider a paid subscription here!


From the Opinion Pages


Orwell at the Archives

The other day, Washington Post reporter Joe Heim made a troubling discovery. At the National Archives in Washington, D.C., he found a photo of the Women’s March from Jan. 21, 2017. But something in the background was blurry. A sign.

“GOD HATES … ”

The third word was blurred. So, he found the original photo.

“GOD HATES TRUMP”

The Archivesoriginal response was pitiful. “As a non-partisan, non-political federal agency, we blurred references to the President’s name on some posters, so as not to engage in current political controversy,” Archives spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman told the Washington Post. “Our mission is to safeguard and provide access to the nation’s most important federal records, and our exhibits are one way in which we connect the American people to those records. Modifying the image was an attempt on our part to keep the focus on the records.” But, they could not identify another instance where this has happened.

The Women’s March was a spirited moment in Washington, D.C.’s history. I’ve lived here since 2013 and I’ve never quite seen anything like it. The streets were flooded with people. Most streets downtown were completely blocked off. The National Mall was so overrun with protesters that the mass spilled into the side streets throughout the city. Everyone had a sign. Everyone had a purpose. I remember walking through it on the sidelines with my camera, a student still.

They blurred images and words about female genitalia too. They said those were inappropriate for students. Critics including the historian Douglas Brinkley weighed in: “There's no reason for the National Archives to ever digitally alter a historic photograph,” he said. “If they don't want to use a specific image, then don't use it. But to confuse the public is reprehensible. The head of the Archives has to very quickly fix this damage. A lot of history is messy, and there's zero reason why the Archives can't be upfront about a photo from a women's march.”

The Archives has since apologized. But the damage is done.

“It has damaged the faith many Americans, particularly women, may have had in its role as an impartial conservator of the nation’s records,” wrote Post architecture and art critic Philip Kennicott. “It has unnecessarily squandered something that cannot easily be regained.

The Archives engaged in the kind of Orwellian revisionism from which we don’t easily recover. In an era and, in particular, an administration that thinks it can control truth, denigrate reporting as “alternative facts,” and belittle independent arbiters of truth and history, there’s little to no room for error.


More From the Headlines

Thanks for reading Pressing today and always. Like what you read and want to support me? Consider a paid membership here. Otherwise, I’ll see you next Tuesday! Send tips and feedback to sgnover@gmail.com.

No Power in the Pen

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