#freepress: Support it or lose it

CamDaily drugs 1In Cambodia, where I worked in the 1990s, journalists are struggling.  The Cambodia Daily, where I worked, was shut down last year under pressure from the government.  The country’s strongman prime minister has adopted the term “fake news.

In July, the Guardian reported:

The Cambodian government is extending its crackdown on “fake news”, just weeks before the increasingly authoritarian government of prime minister Hun Sen heads to the polls.

A new directive aimed at fake news posted on websites and social media platforms could see violators jailed for two years and fined US$1,000, according to a report in the Khmer Times.

See today’s editorial blast defending free press in the US, where hostility toward journalists is becoming more common. Sometimes, it turns deadly.

According to research from the Committee to Protect Journalists,  in 2018:

  • Four journalists and one media worker have been murdered (at the Capital Gazette)
  • Another journalist, Zack Stoner, was killed in Chicago, but CPJ is still investigating whether the motive is related to his journalism.
  • This is the deadliest year for journalists in the United States since CPJ began keeping records in 1992. At this point in 2018, the United States is the third deadliest country globally after Afghanistan and Syria.

According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker:

  • In 2018, at least 24 journalists were physically attacked (ranging from being shoved or having equipment damaged, to more serious physical assaults). In 2017, at least 45 journalists were physically attacked.
  • In 2018, at least three journalists have been arrested in the U.S. in the course of their work. In 2017, at least 34 journalists were arrested.
  • Since the beginning of 2017, the Department of Justice has issued indictments in at least four leak prosecutions. In at least one case, a journalist’s records were subpoenaed.

An international delegation of global press freedom groups led by CPJ in January found that journalists face a range of threats including physical and verbal harassment, and that press freedom in Missouri and surrounding states has worsened in recent years.

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