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Where is Freedom of the Press?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 17:04 By Maria Armoudian, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
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Earlier this week, British officials used their terrorism laws to detain for nine hours the Brazilian citizen, David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist, Glenn Greenwald, in London's Heathrow Airport.

The act has rightfully angered the journalism community and government watchdogs. But while the act smacks of harassment, some comments, such as that of Nick Cohen, columnist for the conservative weekly, The Spectator, came as a surprise. Cohen called the detention "a clarifying moment that reveals how far Britain has changed for the worse." That's a stretch. After all, for four years, 1988 to 1994, Britain passed, upheld and enforced a broadcasting ban during the Northern Ireland conflict, prohibiting the airing the voices of people the state deemed persona non grata, persons who are now high ranking public officials in Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland was not much better. They, too, banned the voices of the same people. While some journalists made a mockery of the British Broadcasting Ban by airing the faces and allowing actors to lip sync their words, others were powerless in the face of obey-or-lose-your job.

One other thing is more disturbing than bad behavior of governments against freedoms of the press, however. That is that thepress corps seems to forget its other, harassed brethren, some who suffer much worse fates than Mr. Miranda.

For example, far less coverage has come for broadcast technician Ahmed Sharif Hussein. Three gunmen who disguised themselves as students, shot and killed the 40-year-old outside his home near Mogadishu, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Mr. Hussein is one of eight media professionals killed in Somalia over the past year.

In Egypt, journalists have long been facing harassment, attacks, detentions, raids and in worst cases, death. Egypt and Somalia are number 4 and 5 deadliest countries for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Number 6 happens to be Russia, where Edward Snowden, Mr. Greenwald's source has gotten asylum.

Journalists and government watchdogs are right to express their anger over the detention of Mr. Miranda. But should we also, as a media corps, shine as strong a light on these other journalists' struggles—media professionals facing extraordinary dire conditions to bring us important developments from the danger zones of the world.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Maria Armoudian

Maria Armoudian is author of Kill the Messenger: The Media's Role in the Fate of the World, the host of "The Scholars' Circle" syndicated radio program and a lecturer at the University of Southern California.


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