palestinian journalists SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images

A World of Khashoggis

The brutal murder of the US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul is far from an anomaly. Seventy-three journalists have been killed so far this year – often at the hands of those who, like the Saudi regime, are close US allies.

AMMAN – For two months, the brutal murder of the US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, and its geopolitical repercussions, has dominated headlines worldwide. But his case is far from an anomaly. In fact, according to the International Press Institute, violence against journalists and impunity for the perpetrators are “two of the biggest threats to media freedom in our world today.”

Governments often use both carrots and sticks to keep journalists in line. They might reward journalists for toeing the official line, using financial or other kinds of bribes. Those who refuse to be bought, however, may suffer the loss of basic rights (such as passport renewal), or have their reputations destroyed.

To this end, some autocratic regimes emulate US President Donald Trump, calling journalists “enemies” who disseminate “fake news.” This is a bleak reversal for the United States, a country that has historically set a powerful positive example with its formal and informal mechanisms for protecting freedom of the press and its robust culture of investigative journalism.

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