Radio is back and that’s good for freedom of expression

Front cover for Autumn 2017 Index on Censorship magazine

The autumn 2017 Index on Censorship magazine

The retro medium of radio is back, as we explore in the autumn issue of Index on Censorship magazine 2017, which is excellent news for the delivery of well, news.

“The new rise of radio allows more opportunities to discuss and debate than ever before, but we must also fight for radio stations to be unbound from state control and to be able to broadcast news freely,” Index on Censorship magazine Editor Rachael Jolley writes in the new issue.

Listen to a radio show, and you might be provoked, informed or excited about a new subject. But in listening you are doing something that is a little out of fashion, contemplating what others are saying, not tweeting some angry instant response, or even just posting the first thought that comes into your head.

After many predictions of its death, radio is on the rise again, its audience is growing across various age groups and various countries including the US and UK, and part of the reason might be because we are all a bit tired of transmitting constantly. Instead we appear to be happier to settle down and listen to radio and, particularly its news programmes, once again, argued Jolley.

We report that in the summer of 2017, around 48.2 million people in Britain listened to the radio at least once a week, up 0.9% from 2016. And in 2017 across the Atlantic, the USA is seeing a surge in listeners for news and talk radio. Of particular interest is the steady growth in those who listen to the radio for news in the 18-35 age group. “Radio was thought to be going out of fashion as new technologies elbowed it out of the way, but instead it’s back and gathering new audiences. Part of the reason might be growing awareness that someone’s ramblings are not necessarily a reliable source of information.”

Our special report on radio and its impact in 2017 includes a report from Laura Silvia Battaglia in Mosul on the radio station that is giving a voice to the residents of the city, while Claire Kopsky interviews people behind “radio boats”, which are broadcasting information on cholera in the Central African Republic in a bid to educate the population about the disease. We report on how Somali radio journalists receive threats from Al-Shabab for doing their jobs. “I check underneath my wheels, but normally they put bombs under the seat in your car,” says radio reporter Marwan Mayow Hussein.

Then there are the stories of radio proving a perfect outlet for people to share their most private inner thoughts and experiences, as radio star Wana Udobang writes about from a Nigerian context and best-selling author Xinran remembers back in China.

“Part of the increased popularity of radio is that it’s managed to evolve and we explore how podcasts are being made in some of the least likely – and most censored – places, such as China, and smuggled into North Korea.” The magazine also have a handy guide on making your own podcasts, for those with an idea.

But radio’s ability to reach the masses also means that this powerful tool can get into the wrong hands. Then there’s Rwanda, which two decades ago saw the airwaves being monopolised by voices promoting genocide. The country has moved on a lot, but radio there is still far from free. Veteran reporter Graham Holliday who has covered the country reports on the latest challenges.

And there’s interviews with BBC World Service English director Mary Hockaday, pirate radio DJ Allan Brando, Hong Kong broadcaster Hugh Chiverton and science presenter Robin Ince.

Outside the special report on radio, the magazine publishes a special investigation into the dangers faced by journalists in Mexico, by our special correspondent Duncan Tucker, who looks at how many reporters have been murdered since 2000, as 2017 looks to record the most killings for a decade.

Plus Orwell Prize winning journalist Iona Craig argues that encrypted apps are needed to give reporters in dangerous countries more security.


You can order your copy here, or take out a digital subscription via Exact Editions. Copies are also available at the BFI, the Serpentine Gallery, MagCulture, (London), News from Nowhere (Liverpool), Home (Manchester), Calton Books (Glasgow) and on Amazon. Each magazine sale helps Index on Censorship continue its fight for free expression worldwide.

About  Index on Censorship magazine

Index on Censorship magazine was first published in 1972 and remains the only global magazine dedicated to free expression. Since then, some of the greatest names in literature and academia have written for the magazine, including Nadine Gordimer, Mario Vargas Llosa, Amartya Sen, Samuel Beckett, as well as Arthur Miller and Harold Pinter. The magazine continues to attract great writers, passionate arguments, and expose chilling stories of censorship and violence. It is the only global free expression magazine.

Each quarterly magazine is filled with reports, analysis, photography and creative writing from around the world. Index on Censorship magazine is published four times a year by Sage, and is available in print, online and mobile/tablets (iPhone/iPad, Android, Kindle Fire).

Winner of the British Society of Magazine Editors 2016 Editor of the Year in the special interest brand category.

As the Boston Globe said, Index has bylines that Vanity Fair would kill for. “Would that bylines were the only things about Index people were willing to kill for”

More information

For more information, previews or quotes, contact [email protected]


It’s not just Trump: threats to US media freedom go far deeper, survey shows

It's not just Trump: US media freedom fraying at the edges
Threats to media freedom in the United States go far beyond the high-profile attacks on news outlets made by President Donald Trump, a new study shows.

The study – by international freedom of expression organization Index on Censorship – examined a range of threats to the independence and standing of the media in the period leading up to the US presidential election and in the months following.

It found that journalists are increasingly targeted by police, public authorities and the public at large, making it increasingly hard for the press and broadcasters to properly investigate and expose corruption and wrongdoing and hold those in power to account.

“Freedom of the press is the cornerstone of democracy,” Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg said. “Yet even in the United States, where this freedom is enshrined in the constitution, that freedom is under threat.”

Examples of attacks on the press include the arrest and detention of journalists covering protests, online harassment, physical assaults, and the branding of factual reporting by media outlets that high-ranking officials – including the President – do not like as “fake news”.

This survey reviewed over 150 publicly reported incidents of media freedom violations that occurred in the United States between 30 June 2016 and 28 February 2017.

The report is available on the web and in PDF format.

For further information, please contact Sean Gallagher at [email protected]

Notes for editors

Index on Censorship is a UK-based non-profit organisation that publishes the work of censored writers and artists and campaigns against censorship worldwide.

The study is based on a non-exhaustive survey of press freedom incidents recorded publicly between 30 June 2016 and 28 February 2017. It uses criteria developed and employed by Index’s European media freedom monitoring project: Mapping Media Freedom. Launched in May 2014, Mapping Media Freedom monitors the media landscape in 42 European and neighbouring countries.

Index on Censorship is part of a coalition of organisations who will later this year launch a news site to track press freedom violations in the United States. The coalition includes Index, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and Reporters Without Borders

Mass surveillance threatens freedom of expression

Index on Censorship is extremely concerned about the reported extent of mass surveillance of both meta data and content, resulting from the alleged tapping into underwater cables that carry national and international communications traffic.

Index calls on the UK government to clarify the extent and legality of the alleged surveillance by GCHQ. Index believes that GCHQ is circumventing laws such as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to allow surveillance that undermines the human rights of British and other citizens.

Index CEO Kirsty Hughes said:
“The mass surveillance of citizens’ private communications is unacceptable – it both invades privacy and threatens freedom of expression. The government cannot continue to cite national security as a justification without revealing the extent of its intrusion and the legal basis for collecting data on this scale. Undermining freedom of expression through mass surveillance is more likely to endanger than defend our security.”

Index is calling on the British government to:

• Confirm whether GCHQ is undertaking the mass surveillance of meta data and content by tapping into communications cables
• Clarify which laws are being used to authorise the collection of data by this method and on this scale
• Commit to protecting the right to privacy and to freedom of expression of people living in the UK and beyond