Global News Media Finds Itself on Defensive After Putin ‘Fake News’ Crackdown

( )- In response to a crackdown on news reporting in Russia, several major foreign news outlets announced last Friday that they would cease broadcasting in Russia.

CNN, CBS News, ABC News, the BBC, the Canadian CBC, and Bloomberg all announced on Friday that they were curbing coverage in Russia to protest the country’s censorship on news coverage.

The announcement came after Russia blocked foreign news websites like the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Deutsche Welle, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Meanwhile, independent journalists from Russia are reportedly fleeing the country out of fear of a crackdown from Moscow.

In addition to blocking foreign news outlets, on Friday the Russian parliament passed a law giving the Kremlin sweeping power to censor the press. The law makes it illegal to report on Russian military setbacks or civilian deaths in its invasion of Ukraine. Journalists will be barred from describing the invasion as a “war.”

In short, straying outside the Kremlin’s approved narrative of the action in Ukraine could result in imprisonment. Journalists whose violations lead to so-called “severe consequences” could face up to 15 years in prison.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of parliament said on Friday that the law will mean those who have “lied” or “made statements discrediting our armed forces” will face “very grave punishment.”

Citing the safety and security of its staff working in the region, on Monday, the New York Times also announced it was moving its editorial staff out of Russia in response to Moscow’s crackdown.

According to a spokesperson for the Times, the paper will monitor the application of the new censorship law and hopes to be able to return its staff to the region “as soon as possible.”

By Tuesday, the BBC announced that it was reversing its initial decision and would resume live TV shots and other reporting from Russia while it continues to monitor the implementation of Moscow’s press censorship law.

CNN clarified that it has not shut down its Moscow bureau entirely, but for the time being, it has ceased reporting from Russia until it has assessed the new law.