Friday, 4 May 2007

World Press Freedom Day

Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day. I had meant to post about this and the wonderful (in a bad way) irony that only the day before Rupert Murdoch launched a (thankfully unsuccessful) takeover bid for the Wall Street Journal, in a further bid to consolidate his global media empire and minimise the number of different voices providing news and information around the world.

The bid was defeated, but the irony stands.

I was also going to mention the fact that, so far this year, around the world:

  • 24 Journalists have been killed;

  • 5 Media assistants have been killed;

  • 125 Journalists have been imprisoned;

  • 4 Media assistants have been imprisoned; and

  • 65 Cyberdissidents have been imprisoned.

  • Possibly the most notorious case is that of Anna Politkovskaya. Russian authorities (almost certainly implicated in her death) launched a half-arsed investigation, which, unsurprisingly, found nothing at all.

    C and I saw Anna Politkovskaya speak at the 2006 Sydney Writer's Festival. She was absolutely inspiring and her tragic death brings Russia one step closer to total information blackout.

    BBC Palestinian Territories correspondent, Alan Johnston, is still missing (he was abducted in Gaza on 12 March). Cases like his aren't captured in the statistics presented above, and highlight another disturbing trend - the targeting of journalists and media workers by political groups.

    Thousands of other journalists everyday around the world self censor and do so increasingly. Not necessarily for fear of their lives (though under many regimes this is certianly the prime motivation to keep things in line), but becuase they know anything they write that doesn't "fit" simply won't get published.

    The Lao People's "Democratic" Republic is a classic case in point, but that's for another post.

    Overall I'd say things are looking grim. More news sources are controlled by fewer individuals, journalists' lives and liberties are increasingly being put at risk by the actions of state and non-state actors in political battles, and the nature, tone, breadth and depth of information available to us (the peoples of the world) is narrowing, despite the growth of online media content.

    I wish I'd written this yesterday.

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