(From “The Truth Is Hard” a new New York Times ad campaign.)
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 12 years in countries without a free press. Countries where journalists are intimidated, threatened, jailed and even killed for doing their jobs. As an American journalist, I’ve often reflected on how easy we have it. Many times I’ve wondered what American journalists would do if they faced even a fraction of what journalists in the countries we cover deal with — journalists who are partners in our work but who often encounter much more personal risk.
Of course, tragically and increasingly, American journalists are also dying while doing their jobs. Daniel Pearl was a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, kidnapped and murdered by Pakistani terrorists. TheDaniel Pearl Memorial Lecture was recently delivered by Bret Stephens, a foreign-affairs columnist for the Wall Street Journal. In his speech, Stephens reflected on our obligation as journalists:
“Not to look around, or beyond, or away from the facts, but to look straight at them, to recognize and call them for what they are, nothing more or less….To speak the truth irrespective of what it means for our popularity or influence.”
The President may consider us the “enemy of the people” and many Americans may agree. But journalism isn’t a popularity contest. It’s something far more important.
“Democracy Dies in Darkness,” as the Washington Post‘s new motto proclaims. And not just democracy in the United States. Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) claims that Trump’s attacks on the press “do even greater damageoutside the United States, where America’s standing as a global beacon of press freedom is being drastically eroded.”
But not without a fight, Joel. I and my colleagues at CPJ and other press freedom organizations are doing all we can to support, as Simon says, “the brave journalists on the front line who risk their lives and liberty to bring the world the news.”
RECOMMENDED THIS WEEK
Click on the photo above to read Simon’s article — it’s not-to-be-missed weekend reading.
P.S. Here again — in case you missed them — are my personal go-to media outlets — with a few added from last week.