Freedom of the Press

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

Only 13% of the world has a free press. It hit its lowest point in the past 13 years in 2016. Many fear an American president demonizing the press could lead citizens to stop trusting an industry that has the power to potentially prevent corruption.

According to Freedom House, “forty-five percent of the population lives in countries where the media environment is Not Free.” Among the world’s worst-rated are Cuba, North Korea and Syria. Here, people have very few freedoms, especially when it comes to expressing how they feel about their government.

Censoring the media can empower a tyrannical government. For example, the North Korean government has secluded the country from the rest of the world. By keeping its citizens in the dark, it prevents outside influence from infiltrating the country. Citizens can be influenced by what the government decides. Many who try to escape the country are executed or imprisoned in concentration camps. Disobeying the government, or even criticizing it can land a person and his or her family in a concentration camp.

Willa Frej, a writer for the HuffPost, wrote: “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s mistreatment of political prisoners is at least as egregious as that carried out in World War II concentration camps, according to a former international judge who survived Auschwitz.”

Journalists are being murdered because their words have power. They give people the knowledge of what is happening in their government. Government censorship may start out with a president labeling everything as “fake news,” removing credentials from reporters who ask tough questions or calling the press the “enemy of the people,” but it could evolve into our rights being revoked. Imagine how Americans would have handled the Civil Rights Movement or the Vietnam War if it weren’t for the first amendment. The press keeps the government in line and citizens safe from corruption. We can’t take it for granted or risk losing it. Freedom of the Press needs to be protected.

Consider this, why would anyone seek to destroy an institution meant to protect citizens? Discrediting reputable sources with baseless accusations because you don’t like what they have to say about you is manipulative. Journalists aren’t there to be your friend. If a journalist is solely reporting on someone’s good traits, just to gain his or her praise, then something is wrong. That journalist isn’t a journalist. That’s not journalism at all, it’s just propaganda. Real journalists tell the truth, even if it angers those in power, especially if it angers those in power. The press is the only privately own sector protected by the constitution because our founding fathers knew corrupt individuals would want to destroy that right.

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