China’s Communist Party has begun ordering all Chinese journalists not to take supportive stances toward Japan when writing about territorial and historical issues between the two countries, participants of a mandatory training program revealed Saturday. Around 250,000 journalists who work for various Chinese media organizations must attend the nationwide training program to learn about such topics as Marxist views on journalism, laws and regulations and norms in news-gathering and editing, in order to get their press accreditation renewed.

October 18, 2013

Everywhere he looks nowadays, Nicolás Maduro sees conspiracies. At least a dozen plots to assassinate him have allegedly been detected since he became Venezuela’s president in April. Mr Maduro recently expelled three American diplomats for supposedly conspiring with the opposition, business groups and unions to wage “economic war” and overthrow the government. Some plots may even be real: there are rumours of discontent in the armed forces, on which the president is lavishing time and money. But publicly, at least, the opposition media are Mr Maduro’s prime suspects.

October 13, 2013

This is the last time you will be reading The International Herald Tribune; as of tomorrow, it is The International New York Times.

The new editor of Granma - Pelayo Terry - is seen as less of a hardliner than his predecessor. He has a Twitter account and has spoken in favour of using social media to promote dialogue. The decision to replace the editorial command of the two papers was taken by the Communist Party's Politburo. Granma is the Politburo's official newspaper and Juventud Rebelde the daily of the Party's youth wing.

Within two minutes of crossing from Turkey into Syria, I’m on the back of a motorbike being given a lift to a Free Syrian Army press office. It turns out to be a forty second ride but I might have missed it otherwise. It’s just a little prefab house across the road from a refugee camp, but it’s here that I’ve been told I can get some basic information and hire a translator.

In late May, protesters descended on Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park. At first, there was a small sit-in over re-development plans that would have it, one of the few parks in European Istanbul. After months of unsuccessful petitioning to save the park, activists took to camping out there to prevent the demolition. Police removed them by force, setting their encampment on fire in the process.

September 25, 2013

This week on the Listening Post: Presidents, propaganda and channelling the media to get the message out: a look at the similarities and differences between Syria in 2013 and Iraq 10 years ago. As the crisis in Syria deepens, the diplomatic battle outside the country – being fought out in the global media – intensifies.

In many ways, the Middle East makes a strange -- and at times perilous -- hotbed for caricature. Many of the region's leaders have a poor reputation for humor, and often, the list of banned topics makes for a long read. For those that dare to satirize a taboo, the punishments can be harsh: arrest, torture, exile, even death.