Threats to the Free Press Around the World

About two weeks ago in the infamous state of Sinaloa, Mexico, a radio reporter named Omar Ivan Camacho was found brutally murdered in his apartment.

Journalists are tasked with reporting events and spreading stories from all around the world. As simple of a job as this might seem on paper, it goes deeper than looking for interviews.

There are risks associated with reporting the truth and holding others accountable, including harassment, threats and sometimes things far more grave. According to Forbes, the 10 most dangerous countries to be a journalist include Afghanistan, Syria, Mexico and even the United States. Most of these journalists are killed for political reasons and not brutality, but even then the United States saw an incident of this nature last year when a gunman stormed into the Capital Gazette headquarters and gunned down five people. So how dangerous can it be?

According to the New Republic, 2018 recorded about 34 journalists killed, doubling last year’s statistics around the globe. Following the Charlie Hebdo attack that left 12 dead, many journalists and artists, France saw an increase in surveillance and new limits on certain liberties on its citizens, like random searches and house arrest of suspects.

Mexico, according to NPR, has reached historical highs in journalist deaths, mostly from the fact some journalists portray the local cartels in a bad light. In short, any criticism that would spark government, public, or let alone any action against them and their operations comes at a price.

According to Newsweek, one of the more recognizable censored nations, North Korea, also partakes in this following the sentencing of two South Korean journalists to death in 2017 over a book review. The book essentially talks about the possibility of private markets in the regime, as well with jokingly labeling the country as “capitalist.”

This isn’t always the case across the board, and many journalists will never face these extreme circumstances. However, these are examples of how dangerous the environment for journalists can be; journalists who are simply attempting to show their opinions or share a story with the world. So, what can be done to lessen these atrocities?

The most notable organization against the violence of journalists and a large advocate for free press is CPJ, or the Committee to Protect Journalists. CPJ records current problems and the deaths of journalists in order to raise awareness for the free press. Also according to AFP, in France there have been journalists protesting alongside the “Yellow Vest” mobs. Overall, more forces need to be made to protect journalism and the idea of free press as a whole.

Massacres and the conflicts associated with political ideologies will never extinguish the power of the free press and all of its benefits to a free society, but it’s also not to say the murders and deaths of journalists should be swept under the rug.

Our leaders need to reinforce the importance of journalism, not degrade it or lessen its importance in our world. Journalists are the watchdogs of our society, a right protected in our First Amendment in the U.S. and a right that should always be guarded.

Without journalists, our country’s foundation would crumble. It is important to be aware of the atrocities or harassment some face simply in response to their work.

The press isn’t the enemy of the people and may we never forget that.