With the approach of Sunshine Week (March 13-19), SABEW, the organization for business journalists, condemns actions by the Russian government to outlaw independent reporting and impose potential jail sentences on journalists who deviate from government-sanctioned reports about fighting in Ukraine. The criminalization of using terms like “war” or “invasion” to describe the horror unfolding in Ukraine at the hands of the Russian military is unconscionable.
The gravity of the current situation for journalists attempting to understand what is going on in Ukraine and inside Russia cannot be overstated. The upheaval in commodities and other markets, as well as economies worldwide, is unprecedented. SABEW applauds the courage of news organizations that continue to shed light on events in Ukraine and Russia and appreciates the efforts by hundreds of our members to make sense of the economic impacts at home and abroad.
The effect of President Vladimir Putin’s amendment to existing media laws has prompted SABEW member organizations Bloomberg and The New York Times to temporarily suspend news gathering inside Russia. Other member organizations are withdrawing bylines and taking other steps to keep reporting under threat of imprisonment.
As Robert Mahoney of the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote, the new rules have “plunged Russia into an information dark age.” They have turned upside down the idea of reporting “without fear or favor” the phrase used by publisher Adolph S. Ochs to describe the mission of the modern New York Times.
SABEW will continue to monitor the situation in Russia and elsewhere during Sunshine Week, a nationwide effort where journalists and citizens pause to recognize that open government is good government.
For further reading:
- CPJ: ‘Putin has plunged Russia into an information dark age’
- NiemanLab: “An information dark age”: Russia’s new “fake news” law has outlawed most independent journalism there
- New York Times: Russia Takes Censorship to New Extremes, Stifling War Coverage
- Washington Post: Western news outlets curb reporting, broadcasts in Russia as Putin signs law cracking down on Ukraine coverage
- Bloomberg: Bloomberg to Temporarily Halt Work of Its Journalists in Russia
- New York Times: With New Limits on Media, Putin Closes a Door on Russia’s ‘Openness’