WHEN FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IS IMPRISONED

Dear Editor:

Jailed journalists around the globe. How can it be? First Amendment aggressions in the United States. How can it be? When words and voices are held hostage, humanity suffers. Devious despots misusing power and preying upon humanity – withholding information because knowledge is power. Silencing the other side of the story. Fear of losing control feeds their depravity. Dictators hiding behind castle walls and armies of destruction for those who dare criticize. Freedom of the press is held hostage as journalists observe through prison bars. The courageous storytellers that sacrifice personal safety for the human rights of others. But their lips will not be nailed shut like a wooden coffin. Truth finds a way to seep out of the cracks and crannies of the grave. Duvar English, an independent newspaper in Turkey, revealed the following facts in a 2019 article: “There are 250 imprisoned journalists in the world, nearly 50 of whom are in Turkey, according to a report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Turkey follows China with the second largest number of journalists jailed with 47, marking a decrease from 68 last year. Penned by CPJ editor Elana Beiser, the report noted that over 100 news organizations have been closed under the current Turkish government and that many working journalists are being accused of terrorism and are in legal battles … Saudi Arabia and Egypt tied for third place with 26 journalists incarcerated.” Reporters Without Borders lends bulletproof vests and helmets at no cost to journalists traveling to dangerous areas.

Before the 13 colonies declared independence from Great Britain, the British government attempted to censor the American media by prohibiting newspapers from publishing unfavorable information and opinions. The First Amendment, which protects freedom of the press, was adopted Dec. 15, 1791, as part of the Bill of Rights. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, which documents First Amendment aggressions in the United States, has collected student journalism-based incidents at both the university and high school levels. Since its launch in 2017, the Tracker has documented five cases of high school newspapers being censored or placed under prior review for their coverage of controversial topics. At the university level, it has collected two arrests, two physical attacks and three border stops involving student journalists, as well as three cases of subpoenas or legal orders.

What can citizens in the U.S. do?

Support your local newspaper and pay for the news you consume. Read local, state and national newspapers and write letters to the editors about free press issues. Join or donate to Reporters Without Borders. Reporters Without Borders USA is the U.S. office of the global organization. Read about the 100 Information Heroes from countries abroad. The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. CPJ is made up of about 40 experts around the world, with headquarters in New York City. When press freedom violations occur, CPJ mobilizes a network of correspondents who report and take action on behalf of those targeted. Be aware of fake news outlets and fake news on social media. PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others. Snopes.com is an independent publication fact-checking site online. Fact-checking and accountability journalism from AP journalists around the globe can be found at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Melissa Martin
via email

 

SHAME ON SEA WORLD

Dear Editor:

SeaWorld has changed the name of its orca shows from “One Ocean” to “Orca Encounter,” but for the orcas, it’s business as usual. They are still jammed in the same cramped, chemically treated tanks, denied everything that is important to them. Putting a spin on the name won’t make a scintilla of difference to the orcas or alleviate their misery. It’s been years since the release of the documentary “Blackfish” – whose “star,” Tilikum, died after 33 years in a concrete tank – but orcas at SeaWorld are still swimming in endless circles and breaking their teeth by gnawing in frustration on the concrete corners and metal bars of their tanks. Other marine mammals are still being impregnated, sometimes forcibly after being drugged, and 140 dolphins are packed into just seven tanks. Trainers use them as surfboards, riding on their backs and standing on their faces in cruel and demeaning circus-style shows. SeaWorld must release the long-suffering animals into seaside sanctuaries – where they would live in the ocean while benefiting from human care for as long as they might need – so that they can have a life outside watery prison cells.

Jennifer O’Connor
via email

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location