In the Media

For more than a decade I’ve helped explain to the media how technology impacts human rights, media, geopolitics and actual people, like women, journalists, and activists. From how tech companies responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the Arab Spring to ISIS assassinating journalists and posting their murders online to the live-streaming of far right violent extremism, the trajectory of internet governance and tech policy have been shaped by those who have paid with their life and their freedom.

CNN “Smerconish” appearance May 21, 2022

Amid the historic Black Lives Matter protests and anti-police brutality demonstrations that broke out around the United States in the summer of 2020, I had to describe over and over again to media around the world the unprecedented violence against journalists covering these historic events. (BBC, Fox News, TIME, Rolling Stone).

As the coronavirus pandemic spread around the world, so too did the crackdown on press freedom. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 I have spoken with outlets around the world about the conditions for journalists and the risk to press freedom posed by the virus itself and government responses to it. (See for example my interviews with the AP, VOA, DW, PRX, Inside Arabia, etc. Journalist safety was also a critical issue to consider during COVID19. I also raised concerns about the potential impact of the surveillance regimes being rolled out to help combat and track the virus in an oped and numerous interviews (see for example this one with VOA) and I spoke to CODA Story about the impact of foreign influence laws on journalists (Sept. 2020).

In 2019, I spoke with CNN’s Brian Stelter and with AP about what it’s like to be a journalist targeted by trolls and the findings from CPJ’s survey of online harassment of women journalists, an issue I have been working on since the Arab Spring. I spoke with the AP about gender and press freedom and the in 2016, CPJ published a special edition of Attacks on the Press focused on this topic.

I have given hundreds of interviews about press freedom and censorship over the years, from annual trends in repression to the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi (Democracy Now!, The Hill, Newsweek) and journalists at Charlie Hebdo to pervasive censorship and online harassment. I joined The Cycle on MSNBC to talk about growing concerns that journalists are being targeted more often over freedom of expression in 2015, and five years later on WNYC’s The Takeaway I was still discussing the challenge of press freedom in repressive regimes.

I must have given hundreds of interviews related to the topic of President Trump and his treatment of journalists, disdain for press freedom and hostility toward the press, exemplified by the “fake news” mantra. From an interview about CPJ’s report on Trump’s media freedom record for Al Jazeera (April 2020) to a live interview for The Hill TV , the stories have been constant. In 2019, I spoke to NPR about the downgrading of the U.S. press freedom ranking, and to The Nation about how the world was becoming more dangerous for journalists. I spoke with TechCrunch about Samantha Bee’s “Not the White House Correspondents Dinner”

CCTV interview about what can be done to protect journalists in the wake of the murders of James Foley and Steven Sotloff by ISIS militants in Syria.

For over a decade, I’ve been raising awareness about the threats that spyware and the surveillance pose to journalists, from an interview with Bloomberg on Cyber Attacks on Activists Traced to FinFisher Spyware of Gamma in 2012 to the speaking with The Intercept about dangers posed by NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, sadly something that is once again of utmost importance to journalists, world leaders, and activists in 2021.

2011 | internet activism segment of the PBS FRONTLINE documentary Revolution in Cairo
(full transcript of the interview)

And for more than a decade, I’ve helped explain what’s going on in Arab media to US and global audiences. From NPR’s All Things Considered to The Economist, my research on cyberactivism and citizen journalism in the Middle East has been covered by a range of global media outlets and researchers (And no, the “Arab Spring” was not a Facebook or a Twitter revolution).

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