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Press Freedom: Our Vital Water of Being Informed

Today, May 3, is World Press Freedom Day. It’s a liberty constantly under attack throughout the globe.

As respected TV journalist Christiane Amanpour writes in the foreword to the Committee to Protect Journalists‘ 2015 report of Attacks on the Press:

Such are the kinds of dangers journalists face around the globe. From government surveillance and censorship to computer hacking, from physical attacks to imprisonment, kidnapping, and murder, the aim is to limit or otherwise control the flow of information–an increasingly complicated effort, with higher and higher stakes.

freedom-of-the-pressThe effort to censor information and quash transparency is rampant in the United States. We reported on this last year, including our angry column “National Security Depends on Press Freedom” in The Clyde Fitch Report. We discussed how the U.S. Justice Department and federal courts had spat on the Constitution by intimidating and threatening to jail New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen for refusing to reveal a source – a government message meant to intimidate all journalists.

Combine this with the FBI’s tapping phone records of Associated Press journalists, and the White House’s concerted stalking of whistleblowers, and the corporate media’s collaboration with Washington on slanting news to favor endless war, U.S. freedoms — including of the press along with other citizens’ freedoms threatened through government surveillance, private prisons and police abuse – perhaps have never been more in danger.

These U.S. efforts represent a global danger, not only because the federal government has secretly surveilled citizens, corporations, and government leaders in other nations. But America’s profile as a leading aggressive world power encourages smaller nations to follow suit in efforts to quell the press.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that 1,123 journalists have been killed since 1992, 21 slain in 2015 alone. In 2014, 221 journalists were imprisoned. And 456 have been exiled since 2008. All dictatorial efforts to limit your ability to know what you deserve to know.

world press freedomJust in the past week, Kenyan editor John Kituyi was beaten to death; five Brazilian journalists were injured covering clashes between police and striking teachers; gunmen shot dead Somali journalist Daud Ali Omar and his wife at the couple’s home; in Burundi, police cut the transmission of at least three radio stations, and telecommunications companies have been ordered to suspend mobile access to social media.

On April 29, CPJ wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin decrying deteriorating press freedoms in Crimea. In Thailand on Monday, authorities “revoked the operating license of Peace TV, a news station aligned with the elected government ousted in last year’s military coup.” CPJ also wrote this week how Spain’s new gag law is a threat to free flow of information.

On April 27, CPJ released its report “10 Most Censored Countries”.

On a more positive note, CPJ reported this week that the Colombian Supreme Court sentenced two former senior government officials for “spying on some of the country’s most prominent journalists as well as judges, human rights activists, and opposition politicians.” Wouldn’t it be nice to see the U.S. follow Columbia’s lead?

If you care about your and your children’s freedoms, then take a good look at CPJ’s 2015 report Attacks on the Press. Because assaulting journalists anywhere in their attempts to bring forward transparency and truth is indeed an attack on you.

Roger Armbrust

Roger Armbrust's articles and columns have covered labor and management, Congressional legislation, and federal court cases, including appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. He formerly served as national news editor of Back Stage in New York City, where he also taught a professional writing course at New York University. His recent book of sonnets -- oh, touch me there: Love Sonnets -- is available from Amazon and other book sites. He is an associate curator of The Clyde Fitch Report. He is also co-founder and co-curator of reality: a world of views.

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1 Response

  1. Drew Glover says:

    Another great piece, Rajah!

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