By Alex Cardenas |Staff Writer|
This year alone, a total of 40 journalists have been killed, and 211 have been imprisoned as a result of their work, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Journalists should not be killed or harassed for reporting information, because this trend can ultimately weaken public awareness of current events.
Without active journalism, we allow some individuals in power the liberty to act freely without consequence.
I find it very likely that those in power will use scare tactics against any type of journalism that could shine a bad light on them.
During a National Public Radio interview, journalist Laura Poitras spoke out regarding the harassment she received from the United States government.
Poitras is a journalist and documentary filmmaker who spent eight days with Edward Snowden, as the National Security Agency’s domestic espionage story broke to the public.
Poitras claims that her association with Snowden caused the Department of Homeland Security to put her on the government watch list, which has taken many of her rights away without a fair trial or a single explanation.
Poitras explained how government officials detained her for hours and confiscated her electronic devices as well as her notepads when she traveled to the United States.
Poitras has attempted to fight her blacklisting by the Department of Homeland Security, but I believe it to be an impossible battle against a system that requires no search warrants, trials, or explanations to people who have been singled out.
In my opinion, this type of harassment is likely a government tactic, meant to thwart any future journalistic releases of government information.
On Oct. 23, the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) reported that four of their journalists had been imprisoned, after reporting on violence against women.
Although two of the captive journalists have been released, the paper’s editor-in-chief and the head of ISNA’s society column remain in custody.
These journalists were targeted after covering public protests of weak government response to recent attacks against women who had acid thrown on them for not dressing according to Islamic dress code.
Since Iranian authorities have been trying to play down these attacks, the arrests of these journalists can be seen as a “don’t even think about it” message to any other media outlets that shine a bad light on the government.
In a world filled with corrupt and selfish government officials, it is up to the public to stand up against the persecution of those who help uncover the truth.
To help protect journalists’ rights, as well as our own rights towards information, we need to take the first step and raise public awareness of the many issues journalists face.
The website CPJ.org offers numerous ways to get involved and become an advocate for journalism rights.
Also, with the hashtag #righttoreport, we can take to social media and help inform the public about the plight of journalists.