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Political Journalism Around the World

What are Some of the Risks and Rewards in Political Reporting in America and Abroad?

political_journalism_around_the_worldPolitical journalism around the world offers unique challenges for journalists to reveal the truth to people when, in some countries, the government will do anything, including harming the journalist, in order to keep their control over the press.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in 2013 alone, 13 journalists were killed around the world and 62 percent of the 13 journalists were covering politics. In 2012, 232 journalists were im­prisoned around the world, accord­ing to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In the past decade, the most dangerous place for journalists has been Iraq. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, around 89 media people were mur­dered and another 50 died in cross­fire or other acts of war between the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and 2010.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in 2011, during the turmoil of the Arab Spring, at least 33 journalists and media per­sonnel were killed: One in Algeria, one in Bahrain, two in Egypt, one in Iran, 11 in Iraq, six in Libya, one in Syria, one in Tunisia, five in Ye­men, and four in Somalia.

Dr. Eleanor Novek, associate professor of communication, said that Congress shall not suppress the press, but does not have to sup­port it. For example, Novek said that England has a state supported press which means that the news­papers do not have to raise reve­nue. However, the downside is that there is censorship.

According to Novek, some coun­tries worry about the role of the press and security. “When coun­tries identify journalists as threats to say security, then it [the govern­ment] feels entitled to imprison them, exile or even kill them,” said Novek.

Novek believes that in some countries such as the United States, there is corporate pressure for self-censorship. She said that some of the publications are even owned by larger corporations which can decide what informa­tion is published.

Novek said that governments may even force journalists to re­veal sources.

“Journalists know more than the government or law enforce­ment and have been pressured into revealing sources,” added Novek.

Dr. Saliba Sarsar, professor of the political science department, said, “Obviously, the media plays a crucial role and a free media is essential for the freedom of ex­pression. More often than not, if it were not for the media, instances of human rights abuses, corrup­tion, illegal activities, among oth­ers, would not be uncovered.”

Sarsar also said that if the me­dia is protected, it makes society much more informed. “While the media must do its job responsibly, freedom of expression must be guaranteed. It is a fundamental right, necessary for the actualiza­tion of other human rights. Me­dia personnel must be protected so that they can do their job. It behooves governments in particu­lar and people in general to enable the media to do its job.”

Dr. Michele Grillo, assistant pro­fessor in the criminal justice de­partment, said that the Middle East is one of the most dangerous places to report because of the miscon­ception that journalists are lying.

“Due to the information people received in the Middle East, it is no wonder a large portion saw the United States as ‘bad’ and try­ing to take over the world. It is a strategy to help gain the support of the citizens. Furthermore, govern­ments such as in Libya, Syria and Egypt do not want the world to see how they handle the civil unrest which usually includes force and violence,” said Grillo.

In some countries, journalists are not received with positive reac­tions.

Grillo said, “In general, journal­ists may not be allowed to enter a country or once entry is gained, allowed near the site/city, etc. in order to cover the story. Usually, in cases of civil unrest, rebels want to journalist’s presence in order to help their cause through reporting of the issues, as well as loss of life.”

Another spot that Grillo said is dangerous for journalists is North Korea.

“North Korea, under new lead­ership of President Kim Jong Un, recently stepped up its defense systems, testing missiles and po­tentially nuclear war heads. Any outsider trying to get too close to report on these developments risks dangers such as imprisonment,” said Grillo.

Adrian Palaia, junior political science major, traveled to China and said that the attitude towards the press is completely different. “It is simply more beneficial for the government to use the media as a mouthpiece rather than let it func­tion independently,” said Palaia.

Palaia said that the press ends up being the truth-seekers in most countries but in some that is not the case. “When there is injustice, people deserve to know. When a government, an institution made to protect and serve its population, commits those injustices, correc­tion only comes from the outside,” said Palaia.


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