Visit any destination, but don’t gloss over the free speech issues, argue panellists at launch of Index summer magazine


Vicky Baker, Meera Selva, Harriet Fitch Little and Benji Lanyado. Credit: Rosie Gilbey

“I would always err towards saying go rather than don’t go,” said Benji Lanyado, travel writer and founder of picture agency Picfair, speaking at a panel debate to launch the summer 2018 issue of Index on Censorship magazine.

The latest issue of the magazine, Trouble in Paradise, looks at the free speech issues that are prominent in certain top travel destinations, and yet are often overlooked by tourists and the tourist industry. Countries covered included Mexico, Malta, the Philippines and the Maldives. For the launch, a panel of travel writers and editors shared their thoughts on the roles of writers to tell the full story, rather than the nice, PR holiday story, and discussed the free speech implications of travel.

Taking place at The Book Club in Shoreditch, London, Lanyado was joined by former foreign correspondent Meera Selva, and Harriet Fitch Little, a Financial Times writer. The discussion was chaired by Vicky Baker, a journalist at the BBC.

“The best travel writers do weave in the history and the politics of a place,” said Selva, while Fitch Little, talking about travel writing that might be paid for by travel companies or tourist boards as opposed to publications, said “there’s a way to write about a press trip that is fascinating and revealing.”

All panellists agreed on the value of speaking to locals in a destination, though they also acknowledged that doing so was not necessarily on the top of everyone’s holiday priority list, in particular families who might just want a nice break or might not have the budget for more adventurous travel – and that shouldn’t necessarily be condemned. “We all need escapism from time to time,” said Baker.

The panel also discussed whether travel journalists should write about problematic countries at all, raising questions about whether travelling to these places – and encouraging others to travel to them – benefits corrupt regimes.

“The best travel writers don’t just regurgitate the travel documents provided by the government,” Lanyado said.

“Sometimes you can get so obsessed by the pitfalls of a country and the leaders of a country that you forget about the people, and they can be totally different,” he added and asked whether boycotting a country was a form of censorship in its own right.

“If you don’t go, you don’t learn about the people,” said Baker.

Selva recalled a story of a travel journalist who went on a press trip to North Korea. While this journalist had first-hand experience of government propaganda, they also saw another side of the country when their bus driver did a detour into the countryside, heading off the beaten track. Had the travel journalist not gone, they would not have been able to report on this side.

The question of “ethical travel” was picked up by an audience member, Tina Urso from Malta, who spoke about Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist who was murdered on 16 October 2017 some 70 metres away from her home. Her death, which remains unsolved, exposed Malta’s dark side. There is now a memorial to Daphne opposite the central law courts in Valletta, the capital.

Urso said how this memorial is constantly dismantled, but that tourists, more so than locals, regularly rebuild it. She therefore saw the presence of tourists in Malta as playing a fundamental – and positive – role in highlighting these free speech abuses.

Finally, Fitch Little, who worked for local press in Lebanon and Cambodia, noted that there can sometimes be pressure coming from the other direction, namely pressure for writers to ham up the darker sides of destinations and that this too can conceal the real truth. She said how when writing about Cambodia, UK media often wanted a particular angle, usually one related to the Khmer Rouge.

Equally, when working for Time Out in Lebanon, her friends back home found it hard to believe that the country could have nice restaurants, for example, having seen the country in a more negative light. “Less sexy stories don’t get told,” she said.

For more information on the summer issue of the magazine, click here. Included in the issue is an article from a Maltese journalist, Caroline Muscat, on corruption in the country, a look at journalists living under protection due to their reporting of the drug wars in Baja California Sur and an interview with Federica Angeli, a journalist who lives under 24-hour police protection following her exposé of the mafia in the pretty Italian seaside resort of Ostia.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Trouble in Paradise”][vc_column_text]The summer 2018 issue of Index on Censorship magazine takes you on holiday, just a different kind of holiday. From Malta to the Maldives, we explore how freedom of expression is under attack in dream destinations around the world.

With: Martin Rowson, Jon Savage, Jonathan Tel [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”100843″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Subscribe”][vc_column_text]In print, online. In your mailbox, on your iPad.

Subscription options from £18 or just £1.49 in the App Store for a digital issue.

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Contents: Trouble in paradise

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”With contributions from Mai Khoi, Jon Savage and Jonathan Tel, as well as interviews with Ian Rankin, Victoria Hislop and Maria Ressa”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

The summer 2018 issue of Index on Censorship magazine takes a special look at the free speech issues that affect the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

We examine the journalists who are trying to expose the darker sides of paradise and the issues they encounter in doing so, including an article from a Maltese journalist, Caroline Muscat, on corruption in the country, a look at journalists living under protection due to their reporting of the drug wars in Baja California Sur and an interview with Federica Angeli, a journalist who lives under 24-hour police protection following her exposé of the mafia in the pretty Italian seaside resort of Ostia.

The issue features interviews with bestselling novelists Ian Rankin and Victoria Hislop about how they went about creating a more real depiction of the idyllic places their books are set in.

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The special report also features new data on the relationship between free speech issues and tourism from Mark Frary.

Outside the special report, Samira Shackle discusses the current state of media freedom in Pakistan ahead of elections in the country, and music journalist and author Jon Savage writes about how current attacks on drill rap music are nothing new – the censors have been trying to suppress music trends for over a century.

Finally, we have two short stories written exclusively for the magazine, one by Turkish contributing editor Kaya Genç about a man’s musings on paradise and another by award-winning writer Jonathan Tel on the dangerous end point of facial recognition technology.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Special report: Trouble in paradise”][vc_column_text]

Spraying bullets not sunscreen, by Stephen Woodman: Baja California Sur is at the forefront of Mexico’s drug wars. Journalists are at a great risk. The government hopes tourists don’t notice

The other side of paradise, by Meera Selva: A post civil war Sri Lanka attracts tourists, but locals were hoping for greater freedoms

Speaking out of turn, by Jan Fox: Hawaiian is an official language in this state and yet those who speak it face restrictions.

Women left out in the cold, by Johannes Nugroho: When a Balinese woman was mutilated by her husband, it created a media storm within Indonesia and shed light on domestic abuse there. And yet it barely dented its international reputation

Rocking the nation, by Marco Ferrarese: Malaysia has pitched itself as an Asian melting pot paradise. The reality is different. Just listen to the nation’s punk rockers

Stripsearch, by Martin Rowson: Carry on filtering those pictures darling. Your Instagram followers only want to see the most perfect holiday pics

Two sides of every story, by Alison Flood and Jemimah Steinfeld: Two top novelists, Victoria Hislop and Ian Rankin, talk about showing darker sides of tourist destinations in their books, and upsetting Greek Cypriots

Double vision, by Caroline Muscat: Malta’s Valletta is this year’s Europe’s Capital of Culture. The label conceals darker truths

Taking on the untouchables, by Irene Caselli: Italian journalist Federica Angeli’s life has been on the line since she reported on the mafia. She talks about how 24-hour protection affects her family life

Freedom to travel v travel towards freedom, by Mark Frary: Exclusive new data analysis for the magazine on whether tourists worry about a holiday resort’s reputation for media freedom

Fears that rain on their parades, by Silvia Nortes: Sunbathe all you like, just try to avoid offending religious sensibilities in the Spanish Canary Islands

“We’re not scared of these things”, by Miriam Grace A Go: Rappler news editor on how the newsroom continues despite the increasing threats, alongside words from their CEO Maria Ressa

Slouching away from Eden, by Kaya Genç: Turkey was once hot on the tourist trail, with major city Istanbul hailed as one of the world’s hippest. A look at its fall from grace, and why

White sands, dark deeds, by Zaheena Rasheed: The ultimate honeymoon destination is not so idyllic for the nation’s journalists, who battle corruption, fines and risk their lives as they get their stories

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”In focus”][vc_column_text]

After Isis lost, by Laura Silvia Battaglia: It’s becoming more dangerous, rather than less, to be a reporter in Iraq as two generations of Iraqi journalists explain. Translation by Sue Copeland

Sunshine capital, by Davion Smith: The British Virgin Islands desperately need freedom of information. One journalist reports on finding the truth against the odds

Demonising those teenage dirtbags, by Jon Savage: The current moral outcry over drill music is so last century. Adults have been scared about what the kids are singing for decades

Under the watchful eye of the army, by Samira Shackle: Elections are approaching in Pakistan, and the army has the nation’s journalists and bloggers in its sights

Liberté, egalité… autorité, by Jean-Paul Marthoz: Considered by many as the cradle of modern democracy and free speech, France isn’t practising what it has historically preached

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Culture”][vc_column_text]

A walk in the park, by Kaya Genç: In this new short story for the magazine, an old man contemplates life and his shifting views of paradise

Georgian plain speaking, by Lasha Bugadze: The Georgian playwright and author on the censorious nature of the church in the country. Plus an extract of his new novel, translated into English for the first time by Donald Rayfield

Little big voice, by Mai Khoi: Vietnam’s “Lady Gaga” discusses always looking over her shoulder. Plus a song of hers translated and published in English for the first time

Facing the future, by Jonathan Tel: The award-winning short story writer on how much control the Chinese government actually has and a new short story about facial recognition, written exclusively for the magazine

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Column”][vc_column_text]

Index around the world, by Danyaal Yasin: The unprecedented levels of Turkish journalists being imprisoned are being tracked by Index’s Mapping Media Freedom. Read about this and other countries of concern, plus an update on the fellowships

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Endnote”][vc_column_text]

Game on, by Jemimah Steinfeld: Trump has jumped on the ban video games bandwagon. He called for a ban on games, rather than guns

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row content_placement=”top”][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Trouble in paradise” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:24|text_align:left” link=”|||”][vc_column_text]The summer 2018 issue of Index on Censorship magazine takes a special look at how holidaymakers’ images of palm-fringed beaches and crystal clear waters contrast with the reality of freedoms under threat

With: Ian Rankin, Victoria Hislop, Maria Ressa [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”100776″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=””][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1481888488328{padding-bottom: 50px !important;}”][vc_custom_heading text=”Subscribe” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:24|text_align:left” link=”|||”][vc_column_text]In print, online. In your mailbox, on your iPad.

Subscription options from £18 or just £1.49 in the App Store for a digital issue.

Every subscriber helps support Index on Censorship’s projects around the world.

SUBSCRIBE NOW[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]