Friday, May 04, 2007

A time for celebration or mourning?

May 3rd was World Press Freedom Day.

Heres a snapshot of what happened so far this year:

25 Journalists were killed worldwide.
5 Media assistants were killed.
125 Journalists were imprisoned.
4 Media assistants were imprisoned.
65 Cyberdissidents were imprisoned.

These cyberdissidents are going to prison simply for wanting to provide the public with information. China had the largest number, 50. The U.S. wasn't on this particular list, but that doesn't mean we're exactly innocent.

Blogger and freelance journalist Josh Wolf was sent to prison in August of 2006 for a month and then back to jail in September. Wolf, a Californian, had filmed a demonstration at a G8 summit in 2005 during which a police vehicle was attacked and damaged.

A federal judge ordered him to hand over his film and he refused, sealing his fate. The 24-year-old will probably stay there until a grand jury finishes its investigation of the attack in July 2007.

According to Reporters sans frontiere, press freedom in the country has been on a decline since the jailing of New York Times Reporter Judith Miller for three months in 2005.

So far little progress has been made in terms of protecting jouranlists. In June, the federal supreme court declined, again, to rule on the right of journalists not to reveal their sources.

And to put this in perspective, the United States is ranked 53rd (2006 figures) in the press freedom index. Seriously? It's sad that each year less-developed countries move up on the index and the U.S. continues to drop. The U.S. fell nine places since last year.

I am definately surprised by this number. (Finland was ranked #1 and of course North Korea was last along with Turkmenistan and Eritrea). But maybe not for journalists out there dealing with the government every day the strained relationship between the Bush adminstration and the press.

So when a large part of the world seems to recognize the importance of freedom of the press in making a society work, were are we going?


At Monday, May 07, 2007, Blogger GN said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Monday, May 07, 2007, Blogger GN said...

Not only does this situation stink for American journalist trying to do their work here, but as an advocate for press freedom, I find myself in a predicament when media-hostile governments, like Vietnam, start using the same arguments that the U.S. does for repressing freedom of speech, cyberdissidents and journalists. Those arguments are: terrorism and threats to national security. Sound familiar?


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