Human Rights, World

Journalism Isn’t a Crime, or is It?

In many Western countries, good journalists are the seen as the unsung people’s heroes. Journalists are just common people who look at events that most people may not people about to see and report those findings to the people so that everyone can be informed.

Journalism is part of the reason that The United States has trouble covering up political scandals, which is a good service that journalists give to the US. In a country where journalism is alive and well, the people do not have to worry that a politician or authority figure is trying to pull one over on us. We can rest assured that we are as informed as possible about what is going in the word around us.

But What If You Have Something to Hide?

The main people that don’t like journalists are those that have something that they would rather the general public not know. The most censored countries tend to punish journalists for reporting news stores, and those countries often grossly violate human rights on a regular basis. The countries that most fear and punish journalism are often dictatorial countries that are very closed off to the outside world. Some of the worst offenders? North Korea, Syria, Iran, and the African nation of Eritrea. The first three on this list have a huge concern that goes with them: they all have nuclear weapons or notoriously anti-American. Countries that are heavily armed, aggressive, and extremely devoted to privacy are cause for concern to almost everyone that has any dealings with them at all.

And the “Most Censored” Award Goes To…

Eritrea is the winner! Any foreign journalists are strictly forbidden from entering the country. Anyone (who is a national) who wants to write a story has heavy guidelines that they have to follow if they want they don’t wanna get in big trouble. The government tells the journalist how to write the story, and what to be sure and include and what to definitely not include. Punishments can included exile and prison sentences for failing to follow the standards set forth by the government.

And Also To North Korea

North Korea is one of the most concerning censored countries in the world. Not only do the have a nuclear arsenal of their own, but they have a leadership that hates the United States and all the allies of the US. The people are fed lies constantly, and the government has its own media group. That’s how you know for sure that journalism isn’t working too well in a country; if the government controls the news, journalism does not exist. North Korea is punishing journalists to the point that there is a massive underground movement where Western journalists are helping North Korean people get their story out to the world at large. People who do not conform to the government’s version of journalism do not really exist outside of a few people that work in the underground media to smuggle information about what really happens in North Korea to the outside world.

The Middle East

Countries like Iran and Syria are just as bad about mass censorship. Foreign journalists are absolutely forbidden in these countries, and the government tries as hard as they can to stop the flow of information. Web blocking is very common in Middle Easter countries that are ruled by dictators. Journalists are likely to go to jail for reporting anything outside of the official government-sponsored narrative. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria presented a propaganda-heavy version of his campaign to the outside world and this is what helped him stay in power. If people did not know what he actually did, they would vote for him. He presented himself as a hero of the people and a fighter of global terrorism, and people believed him, as they had no direct evidence to the contrary. Journalists acting outside of this narrative are at severe risk. al-Assad also presented “evidence” that minorities in the country would be severely at risk should he not be in power. He used a communication of media-influenced hero worship and fear to keep his power. By restricting the information flow and punishing journalists, he stayed firmly in power.

And a Few Others…

China has played a harmful role in global journalism. Although they are not as bad as North Korea or Iran, China still has a recent history of imprisoning journalists and intense web-blocking. China is not as openly aggressive as the most censored countries, but independent journalists are likely to be threatened with losing their jobs or going to prison. The country of Uzbekistan interrogates and hurts journalists who report independently. In fact Muhammad Bekjanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov, two reporters for a formerly independent newspaper have been in prison longer than any other journalist in history to date. In countries like Equatorial Guinea, journalists are charged with defamation if they run any story that does not show the president in a completely positive light.

What’s To Be Done?

Journalism in these countries could be the key to people realizing that they have been deceived by their governments and need to stop following every order. But the people will not know what their government is doing fully unless people go inside the secrets and promote the flow of information to everyone in the country. International sanctions must be placed on countries that imprison journalists, and thus the flow of information could spark people to get the lives that they really deserve.

About Caleb Smith

Caleb is a freelance writer and music student from the United States, with a passion for comic books, reading, and punk rock. He loves writing about often overlooked and under-reported stories to help raise awareness.

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