Publicizing the Plight of Journalists
Despite a steady increase in violence against journalists, the global media has tended to shy away from publicizing the dangers of their profession, preferring instead not to become the story. This strategy is no longer tenable; the best way to protect journalists today is to make the risks they face front-page news.
AMSTERDAM – Every five days, on average, somewhere in the world, a journalist is murdered for being a journalist. Nine out of ten times, no one is prosecuted, creating an atmosphere of impunity that extends beyond death threats or violence. Imprisonment of journalists is at an all-time high, and members of the press routinely suffer harassment and intimidation while on assignment. Today, journalism is one of the most dangerous professions anywhere.
One way to address this state of affairs is by talking about it. Three recent examples highlight the risks journalists take to report the news, and underscore why publicizing their plight is the only way to bring about change.
Consider Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler.com, an online news network based in the Philippines. Since founding Rappler in 2012, Ressa’s website has become an invaluable source of information about the extrajudicial killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs.” For her enterprising reporting, Ressa has received more than 80 death threats in the last month alone. Many of these warnings have come from anonymous bloggers, with IP addresses traceable to the president’s associates.