Covering Nigeria, Russian Censorship, and More

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Friday, May 16, 2014

How Boko Haram caught the international media's attention, why The New York Times fired Jill Abramson, and a look back at joke censorship in the Soviet Union.

Covering the Nigerian Schoolgirl Kidnapping

Boko Haram's kidnapping of more than 250 Nigerian schoolgirls has received global attention thanks to a viral hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls, but violence by Boko Haram is nothing new in Nigeria. Bob talks with Nigerian journalist Alexis Okeowo, who has been covering the story for years, about the international media's sudden interest.

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Firing Jill Abramson

In a sudden move this week, The New York Times announced the firing of its executive editor Jill Abramson. Bob speaks with The New Yorker's Ken Auletta about why Abramson was fired.

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Four Filthy (Russian) Words

Last week Vladimir Putin signed a law prohibiting swearing in public performances as well as movies and television. Bob talks with The New Yorker Editor-in-Chief David Remnick about the shadow language of obscenities that runs deep in Russian culture.

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The "Department of Jokes"

The notion of using broad laws to suppress the arts has a long and horrifying tradition in Russia. Bob talks with comedian Yakov Smirnoff about performing in the Soviet Union, where comics had to submit jokes to a Department of Humor for approval.

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Free To Forget

Europe's highest court recently ruled that EU citizens have the right to be forgotten—by Google's search engines. Bob talks with Emily Bell, Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, about the impact of this decision on freedom of information and internet privacy. 

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Managing the Press After Tragedy

Last month, a white supremacist shot and killed 3 people at a Jewish community center and a Jewish assisted living center in Kansas. One of the victims was 69-year-old William Lewis Corporon, whose son Will is a former journalist. Bob speaks with Will about being in a unique position to handle the media onslaught that followed the tragedy.

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A Cinematic Release

When a funeral director named Bernie Tiede shot and killed a wealthy widow in Carthage, Texas, townspeople were sympathetic toward the widely loved Bernie and indifferent toward the murder victim. The twisted tale became the subject of a Richard Linklater film, which played a part in Bernie's recent release from prison. Bob talks with Texas Monthly's Skip Hollandsworth, whose 1998 story about Bernie Tiede inspired the movie.

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