The state of journalism: Freedoms hang in the balance

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Whether it be reporting  on the forefront of the civil war in Syria, covering on a local story in suburbia, or interviewing a politician, journalism and the journalists who report these stories are essential to a free and informed society. Without journalism and the freedom of the press, society goes backward and no progress can ever be made in an efficient manner.

Sadly, this happens to be the case in many countries across the world. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), all across the world, “…from 2011 to 2012 the number of Journalists behind bars because of their work increased from 53 to 232.” The study goes on to say that, “…over the past two decades a journalist is killed once every eight days.” Since 1992, 1129 journalists have been killed in the field.

These are all somber statistics. One could say we are very lucky in the United States compared to countries like Eritrea and North Korea, deemed the two most censored countries in the world by CPJ, or Iraq where over 167 journalists have been killed.

Worldwide, the state of journalism does not look good. CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney says on the censorship of journalists, “When journalists are silenced, whether through violence or laws, we all stand to lose because perpetrators are able to obscure misdeeds, silence dissent, and disempower citizens.”

Journalism and ethical reporting exist so that injustices like this don’t go unnoticed. Censorship of journalists is not just censoring reporters, but the people and the public as a whole.

The people deserve to know about what is going on locally and worldwide without that access being hindered, whether that news be a major war in another country or a controversial topic a local politician is addressing.

The freedom of the press is not something unique to just the United States. This right should be an international right.

The World Press Freedom Index reports that the United States is 49th in the world in press freedom. Censorship does not just occur in countries like Iraq and Eritrea, it happens right here in America.

This is a scary idea to process. Here, in the United States, we censor our journalists and our citizens.

We need professional journalism more than ever. We have an ever-expanding and intrusive government. People every day are becoming less aware of  factual news and becoming less concerned about news and information. This deterioration of the state of journalism mirrors the state of our society in America; we are turning into an ill-informed people that would rather be spoon fed misleading information than be informed.

The Pew Research Center conducted a study called “State of the News Media,” which found that even on social media when people look at the news, they are becoming less engaged with the news media they’re looking at.

Journalism isn’t just taking a physical blow mustered through oppressive governments and censorship. It has taken an economic blow also. Another Pew Research study called “Losses in Legacy” reported, “According to the annual American Society of Newspaper Editors survey, the number of full-time newsroom jobs in 2012 (the last year for which complete data are available) slipped to 38,000. That is the lowest number since the society began counting in 1978. In the decade from 2003 through 2012, a total of 16,200 jobs were lost, according to the editors group.”

On almost all fronts, it seems as if the concept of journalism is being attacked at a time when we need journalism the most.

Since Daniel Defoe, the first of many journalists, those who followed in his footsteps have made a huge impact on society. From Benjamin Franklin to Bob Woodward, journalists influence society in sometimes revolutionary ways. So, it is a terrifying reality that such a significant job in our society is being marginalized, relegated economically and physically, and censored.

As a whole, we all need to realize the all-too-important role journalism plays in any society, and need to start giving journalism the credit and respect it deserves, whether it be in the U.S. or worldwide.

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