Global round-up: Ma to turn to print with Post stake

Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma is likely to become the second internet entrepreneur to buy into a major newspaper, as he continues talks to acquire a stake in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

The extent of the stake in the 112-year-old newspaper being sought by Mr Ma is under negotiation, but it is expected to lead full control.

Mr Ma’s interest in the South China Morning Post follows the purchase of The Washington Post by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos in 2013.

The South China Morning Post has been owned since 1993 by Malaysian Robert Kuok, the richest man in South-East Asia with assets of more than $20 billion.

The paper was owned previously by News Corp.

Mr Ma’s Alibaba e-commerce business, including consumer-to-consumer site Taobao, was listed in New York last year for a record-breaking $35 billion.

Washington Post journalist sentenced in Iran

International concerns have been raised following the sentencing in Iran of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian to an unspecified prison term following his conviction last month on charges that include espionage.

The decision was disclosed by a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, on the state TV station’s website on Monday (AEST).

Ejehi said the verdict was “not finalised”, referring to an expected appeal.

Rezaian’s lawyer, Leila Ahsan, told AP she had not been informed of the verdict — let alone details of the sentence.

“I have no information about details of the verdict,” she said. “We were expecting the verdict some three months ago.”

Rezaian was detained with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and two photojournalists on July 22 last year. All were released except Rezaian, a dual US-Iranian citizen. Rezaian went on trial in four closed-door hearings at Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, which hears cases related to national security. He was convicted of spying and other charges last month.

The Washington Post has denied the charges.

Site set up to verify user-generated content

FirstDraftNews.com, a site established by a coalition of new media companies to guide newsroom editors and journalists in verifying user-generated content, was launched this week.

Designed as a central resource platform, it features expert advice, online tools, case studies, new technology, manuals for self-learning and guides, according to WAN-IFRA.

FirstDraftNews.com hopes to “open up the conversation around the use of eye witness media in news reporting with a strong focus on ethics, verification, copyright and protection”.

More than 500 million tweets are posted every day and more than 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, FirstDraftNews.com managing editor Alastair Reid says. “It’s a completely new ecosystem today and the old processes don’t necessarily apply,” he said.

FirstDraftNews.com is a product of the First Draft Coalition, which was created in June this year. It currently includes nine organisations: citizen investigative website Bellingcat, non-profit Eyewitness Media Hub, real-time rumour tracker Emergent, digital tool provider Meedan, online news publication Reported.ly, newsroom and media consultancy Dig Deeper, social media news agency Storyful, online tool directory Verification Junkie and Google News Lab.

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