Protecting Journalists: Can it Happen Here?

Each morning, I go out to the edge of my driveway and collect the newspapers, which I read while eating breakfast and drinking coffee.  We’re news junkies; we get a lot of papers and magazines.

From the comfort of my kitchen table, I read about the world.

And I silently thank the organizations that send journalists all over who often risk their lives to report the truth.

From the comfort of my home, it’s easy to forget about the Freedom of the Press. In the US, journalists aren’t killed doing their jobs.

Not so elsewhere.  Too often the news becomes the journalists themselves. Editors, reporters, and photographers become victims of attacks when their work offends a regime determined to hide the truth.

Usually book parties celebrate the author’s achievement and welcome a new work of literature. In these days of ebooks, it’s always nice to see another book venture into print.

Attending the Committee to Protect Journalist’s book party didn’t emit that new book glow.  Founded in 1981 to promote press freedom and defend the rights of journalists to report without fear of reprisal, CPJ publishes its “Attacks on the Press” annually. This year, they compiled a book, that includes essays by journalists and committee members, as well as the statistics for 2012.  510rH4rJPSL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX240_SY320_CR,0,0,240,320_SH20_OU01_

These include:

At least 66 journalists were killed in direct relation to their work; 28 in Syria, 12 and Somalia, and at least one in 17 other countries. Of these reported deaths, 32 were murders and 24 were combat-related.

Most these journalists are local, representing publications and media stations that bring the news to the residents in these countries.

Then there are the unsolved murders and  imprisonments- at least 232 journalists were imprisoned worldwide as of December, 2012.  Add to that those in exile.

Sad. Scary. Sobering.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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9 Responses to Protecting Journalists: Can it Happen Here?

  1. Very compelling, had no idea we have a committee for this purpose! My most dangerous assignment was a school board meeting. War reporting is truly heroic work.

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    • I am thankful everyday that Matt’s work is fighting the board room not the war zone. My most dangerous– really nothing. Yes, angry taxpayers, but they were never really mad at me.

      On Wed, Mar 6, 2013 at 10:21 AM, cyclingrandma

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  2. judy says:

    Very sobering. Another reason to be grateful for our country. These foreign journalists are so brave.

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  3. Patti Winker says:

    Very sobering, indeed. My husband went to South Korea several years ago to visit his son and DIL who live there (they are teachers; he is American, she is Korean.) They took a guided tour to see the North Korean border. They were instructed, in no uncertain terms, not to point a finger at the border, not even to gesture to the north, and to keep cameras/phones/notepads/pencils/pens and everything packed away. It was shortly after the release of the journalists Ling and Lee from North Korea, so tensions were understandably high. I was actually surprised they even allowed people to get close to the border. What my husband remembers most was how adamant the South Korean guides were about not making a motion with your hand or even your head. And, yes, the North Korean guards stood at the border with their guns positioned, ready. I can’t imagine being a journalist and trying to get a story under those conditions. Here my husband and family were, tourists, being watched as if they were combatants. Very scary, indeed.

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  4. Thank you for this important reminder. Living in a country where freedom of speech is practiced I sometimes forget that it is not so elsewhere…

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  5. Imagine those poor journalists who entered their fields for the love of writing and for discovering true stories. They never became journalists for their love of fear, danger and life-threatening assignments.

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    • Not the local ones for sure. Those that work for big global organizations love foreign postings,but it does take a certain personality.

      On Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 6:50 AM, cyclingrandma

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  6. karen r-w says:

    Are you saying that the press should not send journalists to cover dangerous stories even if the journalists want to go or are you shedding light on the fact that many people don’t realize how dangerous journalism can be (even though the journalists know what they are doing when they agree to take the job and it’s their fault if they get killed/ kidnapped)? Depending on what you mean there is obviously a very different approach to protecting the journalists (in the first it might be to make it illegal and the second case it might be to send them to a psych hospital to evaluate them for suicidal ideation.

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