With the future of journalism sprinting to the Web, here’s a look at what’s happening in other countries. A recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows more online journalists have been jailed worldwide than any other medium…
The report says that 45 percent of the 125 journalists currently in jail are bloggers, online editors and reporters – surpassing print journalists (42 percent) for the first time since the study began in 1997.
“Online journalism has changed the media landscape and the way we communicate with each other,” said the group’s Executive Director Joel Simon. “But the power and influence of this new generation of online journalists has captured the attention of repressive governments around the world.”
The biggest repressor appears to be China, with Cuba, Myanmar, Eritrea and Uzbekistan following close behind. Charges range from subversion, divulging state secrets, and acting against national interests.
But wait… the U.S. is on the list, too! And has been for the past five years – the length of the current war in Iraq. The survey says “U.S. military authorities have jailed dozens of journalists in Iraq – some for days, others for months at a time – without charge or due process.” Reuters photographer Ibrahim Jassam was just released on December 1st after an Iraqi court ordered there was not enough evidence to keep him.
“The image of the solitary blogger working at home in pajamas may be appealing,” says Simon. “But when the knock comes on the door they are alone and vulnerable. All of us must stand up for their rights–from Internet companies to journalists and press freedom groups. The future of journalism is online and we are now in a battle with the enemies of press freedom who are using imprisonment to define the limits of public discourse.”
Undeniable proof of the ever-increasing power and influence of blogs and social media. The world of journalism may have found a new home, new terrain that has proven its ability to disseminate information to more people, faster than ever. Unfortunately, it’s brought along with it some unfinished business: the battle over free speech – an age-old fight that, depending on where you live, some are still losing.