In the worldwide movement away from democracy, perhaps the most vulnerable institution is the free press, and the most disposable people are journalists. If they’re doing their job right, they can have few friends in powerful places. Journalists become reliably useful to governments, corporations, or armed groups only when they betray their calling. They seldom even have a base of support within the general public. In some places, it’s impossible to report the truth without making oneself an object of hatred and a target of violence for one sector of society or another.
In recent years, reporting the news has become an ever more dangerous activity. Between 2002 and 2012, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (C.P.J.), five hundred and six journalists were killed worldwide, as opposed to three hundred and ninety in the previous decade. Even in the most violent war zones, such as Iraq and Syria, the cause of death is most often simple murder, rather than being killed while covering combat. One major shift in the years since September 11, 2001, has been the erosion of a commonly accepted idea of press neutrality. Journalists are now seen by many combatants, especially jihadis, as legitimate targets and valuable propaganda tools, alive or dead. The best-known cases involve Western reporters, from Daniel Pearl to James Foley, but the most endangered journalists are ones you’ve probably never heard of—the newspaper reporter in Tijuana, the cameraman in Karachi, the blogger in Tehran.
Joel Simon, the executive director of C.P.J, has just published a book called “The New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom.” It seems strange to speak of growing censorship in an era when elections are common around the world, private freedoms have expanded even in repressive countries like China, the Internet and social media swamp our brains with indiscriminate information every nanosecond, and anyone with a Twitter account or a Facebook page can be a journalist. But Simon makes a persuasive case that the global trend is toward less, not greater, freedom of the press. “Deluged with data, we are blind to the larger reality,” he writes. “Around the world new systems of control are taking hold. They are stifling the global conversation and impeding the development of policies and solutions based on an informed understanding of the local realities. Repression and violence against journalists is at record levels, and press freedom is in decline.”
“The New Censorship” outlines four main reasons why this is so. The first is the rise of elected leaders, such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the leftist Presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia, who use their power to intimidate independent journalists and make it nearly impossible for them to function. They exploit their democratic mandates to govern as dictators—“democratators,” as Simon calls them. They do this not only by manipulating, denouncing, and jailing critical reporters but by creating an atmosphere in which a free press is considered a kind of fifth column in the body politic, an import from the West that at best serves as a propaganda tool for outside interests—introducing alien values and stoking chaos—and at worst actively undermines national security and pride.
Demagogues like Putin and Erdoğan create tyrannies of the majority, so that the dissenting stance that’s the normal position of an independent press is easily isolated, tainted with foreign associations, and blamed for social ills. The idea that freedom of expression, along with other public liberties, is a specifically Western ideology, rather than a universal right, is increasingly common, from Caracas to Beijing. Because they have popular support, these leaders enjoy a certain protection against the familiar campaigns of denunciation that are directed at the world’s more straightforward dictators, such as North Korea’s Kim Jong-un or Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.
The second source of censorship, according to Simon, is terrorism. The beheading of Daniel Pearl in Karachi began the trend of turning journalists into specific high-value targets. The Iraq War—the deadliest in history for journalists, with a hundred and fifty killed, eighty-five per cent of them Iraqis, most of whom were murdered—worsened it, making the capture and execution of reporters a normal part of the media landscape. (For me, there was a turning point when I was reporting in Iraq in early 2004, and realized that the press sign in my car windshield offered no protection and perhaps invited trouble; I asked my Iraqi driver to take it down.) In Syria, where many foreign reporters and many more Syrian ones have been kidnapped or killed, the basic functions of journalism have all but ceased.
The extreme violence of conflict today is actually amplified by technological progress. Armed groups no longer need to keep journalists alive, because they have their own means of—in the terrible cliché—“telling their story”: they can post their own videos, publish their own online reports, and tweet to their own followers, knowing that the international press will pick up the most sensational stories anyway. “The direct links created between content producers and consumers make it possible for violent groups to bypass the traditional media and reach the public via chat rooms and websites,” Simon writes. “Journalists have become less essential and therefore more vulnerable as a result.”
Another casualty of technological change is the foreign news bureau—the presence of large numbers of correspondents in places like Sao Paolo, Nairobi, and Jakarta. Simon got his start as a stringer in Mexico City in the early nineties. The system was obviously inefficient, with a dozen or two Americans all reporting the same thing for papers up north, and therefore doomed to “disruption.” But as the decline of traditional media closed foreign bureaus all over the world, critical reporting has been left to local reporters. Many of them are talented, enterprising, and courageous, and often more able than their Western counterparts to work up sources and get to the heart of the story. But their position is also far more precarious. They have no wealthy foreign news organization or influential foreign government to back them. The only government around, their own, might want them dead. In countries like Mexico, the Philippines, and Pakistan, local journalists are the target of brutal campaigns of intimidation and murder by shadowy secret services or armed groups, from narco-traffickers to Islamists.
Finally, there’s the invisible global hand of digital surveillance. The Chinese have perfected its use; the Iranians are getting better all the time. In this country, with the Snowden revelations, there’s a pervasive sense of being monitored, which has pushed many journalists to the routine use of cryptography to protect their sources. And there’s an ambiguous set of signals from the current American government, which promises never to jail journalists for doing their job, but uses the considerable power of the state to plug any leaks it deems harmful. In the age of mass data collection and shifting definitions of journalism, no one knows the rules or how they might be abused and broken.
Simon’s book confirms an idea I’ve had about the fate of institutions in the information age. Despite its promise of liberation, democratization, and levelling, the digital revolution, in undermining traditional forms of media, has actually produced a greater concentration of power in fewer hands, with less organized counter-pressure. As a result, the silencing of the press, otherwise known as censorship—whether by elected autocrats, armed extremists, old-fashioned dictators, or prosecutors stopping leaks with electronic evidence—is actually easier and more prevalent today than it was twenty years ago.
In America, the press is held in perpetually low esteem, even when it does its job well. Despite the power of the N.S.A. and Google, censorship is not the problem here. We don’t suffer from “democratators” or from simple murder. We suffer from the loss of facts—a body of empirical information that American citizens can accept as a common starting point for public debate. We suffer from the loss of faith that our institutions can be shaken up and reformed under the scrutinizing pressure of an independent press. We suffer from irresponsible leaders and an ignorant public. Democratic erosion takes many forms—the hardest to see can be the ones in front of our faces.
Essay on Freedom of the Press
The Consitution has granted rights for Freedom of the Press, but has the press been given too much freedom? The press is given the rights to do many things in order to get the information that they need. Sometimes in order to get what they need, they invade peoples' lives, but what happens to people's right of privacy? Where is the line drawn between what's private and what's not?
It is important that we are informed about what's going on and what people are doing, but many times the press can get a little too infomative and also stretch the truth.
There is always something going on everday and the press is always there to get the story. In the process of getting their story the press has to overcome many obstacles, and crossing that line of privacy is one of them.
We Can Write a Custom Essay on Freedom of the Press for You!
If you look back on some of those times when the press crossed the line of privacy, you will see that the turn out has not been very good. Shuch as the tragic story of Princess Diana. She and her date Dodi Al Fayed were having dinner at his hotel while the paparazzi were trying to get pictures. When they left to go home the paparazzi followed them. In the act of trying to get away from the paparazzi, the car crashed leading to the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed. Can the paparazzi be the blame or was it the alcohol that took control of the driver, Paul? Many people blame the accident on the driver, but then again he was only trying to get away from the paparazzi.
Though the press do cross the line between what's private and what's not, they are an important part of our everyday lives. Without the press we wouldn't be able to know about a lot of things that are happening and have happened in the world. They are the ones that bring us vital information that we need to know about each day in our lives. For example, it it wasn't for the press we wouldn't know about what was happening with the weather. Like the case of El Nino, in 1981 and 1982. The people were not informed and so they weren't prepared and that caused flooding and a lot of damage. The press informs us about bad weather so that we can prepare and be ready for it.
Freedom of the Press is also a source of entertainment. They tell us about many special events that are happening locally and around the world. We hear interesting gossip about many of our favorite celebrites and the press gives people something to talk about. For instance, if your favorite celebrity was Jonathan Taylor Thomas, you would be able to find out interesting things about him, that you would never know if it wasn't for the press. Like his birthday, his favorite food, favorite color, hobbies, and if he had a girlfriend. You also get to hear about bad and illeagal things that idols do, which lets you know what kind of person you are really idolizing. Such as Michael Jackson, many people looked up to him and idolized him, especially little kids, but when he was accused of molesting a littly boy, we heard about it and many people saw Michael in a different way.
We get news from all over the world, which brings new experiences to us, about how different cultures do things.
Many individuals are also brought into our lives through the press. We get to experience many different emotions with the people we see or hear about in the news. One case of this would be the Oklahoma bombing. The victims of this incident and their families were brought into the lives of people from all over. We got to feel the heartache and experience the tears, along with the people who knew the victims or were victims in this bombing. All due to the work of the press. It is also because of the press that when victims in a disaster has lost all their belongings, they get aid from other people. For instance, Hurricane Pauline, in Acapulco, Mexico, wiped out many of the peoples' homes and they lost everything. The press let us know what the situation was and they informed us on what we could do to help the victims out, by telling us where we could go to drop off clothes, food, and/or money.
The press can have a very negative effect on a person's career, but then again they can also have a positive effect on it also. They make a person who was never known to anyone, known to everyone in just a second. If that person did something heroic, the press could put them down in history as being someone great. Of course not every heroic act is committed by a person. Like with the fire in Florida, a homeless cat went back into a burning building to save her kittens from the fire. The press put this story out and now many people know about this heroic cat.
The press is very important and they do provide us with a lot of positive information, but sometimes we get very negative things from the press. Not all press is good and totally honest. Sometimes stories, even the positive ones, are a little stretched from the truth. Instead of getting the facts of a story we could be given opinions from the writer. Or we could even be given totally false information just because they wanted to make news. For example, the tabloids put out crazy stories of made up things just to get people interested enough to buy their paper. Such as the pictures of Michael Jackson's baby, the tabloids showed pictures of a baby, claiming that it was Michaels's baby. When in fact, it was not even his.
The press also gets too involved in people's public and private lives. Though, people do have the right of privacy, the press has ways to get around it with their right of freedom and their freedom of technology usage. Of course a person could always get a restraining order, but that's really no good because the press doesn't even have to be on that person's property or even near that person to get pictures. They could be a hundred feet away and still they could use their high tech equipment to get what they want without it being illegal.
Many offenses have been taken by people because of the stories and pictures they get from the press and because of the press interfering into many people's lives. There have been so many cases that have been brought up against the press for invading the privacy of others. Alec Baldwin, Michael Jackson, and Carol Brunette are all people that have brought up civil suits against the press. In on circumstance, a photographer was punched by Alec Baldwin when he was trying to take a picture of Alec's baby.
The press also gets too involved in criminal or civil activities. Of course, it is important for us to know about the crimes that are committed and who committed them. The press informs us about these criminals and they are part of the reason that we look at criminals the way we do. We read in the papers or hear in the news about criminals everyday. What the press tells us is how we get our opinions of that person as acriminal. After a person has paid for their crime they sohoud be able to start over, but the press is a big part as to why criminals don't get much of a second chance. For instance, if a person has just been released from serving their sentence the press will inform everyone that a criminal has just been let out.
Society will read the stories and will not give that person a second chance because the press didn't give that person a second chance. Although, if the press would have said that the person has served their time and changed their ways, society would look at that person in a different way. In doing this instead of saying a criminal was released they are helping that person out in life rather than giving them a lot of trouble.
So, where is the line drawn between what's private and what's not? Does the press even acknowledge such a line? The press is an important assest in our lives but not everything they do is totally necessary. Though they do have the right for Freedom of the Press, we as people are also entitled to our right of privacy. It was a while back when the Bill of Rights were created and when the Freedom of the Press was thought up. They probably didn't think that it would conflict with the right to privacy. Since, now it is plain to see they do conflict, shouldn't it be changed to Limited Freedom of the Press?
ATTENTION!!!HotEssays.blogspot.com provides free sample essays and essay examples on any topics and subjects. EssayLib.com essay writing service produces 100% custom essays, term papers & research papers, written by quality essay writers only. The prices start from $10 per page. You can order a custom essay on Freedom of the Press now!