Our VoiceNews & Politics

Breaking News, Michael Jackson is Still Dead!

Jill Garvey • Jun 30, 2009

I love Michael Jackson’s music, but what I love more is intelligent, relevant information about the rest of the world. I made a loose decision a few weeks ago not to cover the Iranian uprising on our little blog, as it was receiving extensive mainstream and independent press. But how very ironic and sadly typical that this protest movement (that effects the entire world) is dethroned in the hearts and minds of Americans (literally in an instant) by a pop star.

This is a strange opportunity to see just how being a journalist in this nation differs from being a journalist elsewhere. In other places journalists fear for their lives. Seeking, exposing, and distributing the truth is dangerous work in places with deep issues. But does this mean that we don’t have complicated social issues to deal with in the US? Or does it mean that we’ve been lulled into complacent acceptance of “fluff’ news by media conglomerates that smother the very essence of journalism?

In Somalia a few weeks ago a radio director was shot dead in broad daylight. This is the fifth journalist to die in Somalia in 2009. 14 of Somalia’s leading journalists said they will be forced to flee unless security improves.

In the Philippines, four journalists have been murdered this month alone. A recent report said 124 journalists had died in Russia since 1993. Close to 40 of them were assassinated, while the remainder died in work-related accidents or conflicts.

This doesn’t mean journalists aren’t at risk in the US. According to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, “Between 1976 and 1993, 12 journalists were assassinated in the United States. Ten out of the 12 were immigrant journalists reporting in their first language (Vietnamese, French, Chinese, or Spanish) to immigrant communities, and all but a few of those murders remain unsolved.”

In Iran, determined journalists are risking their lives to show the world courage and truth by any means necessary. Roughly 40 journalists have been arrested by the Iranian government as a result. The media crackdown is unprecedented, Iran has more journalists detained than any other place in the world. Their fate is unknown, and their absence, along with the detention of hundreds more protesters, has had a chilling effect. Proving once again that taking away those who challenge power, speak out, and seek truth, removes the life blood of democracy.

On Monday night, protesters in Tehran again took to the streets in the face of heavy militia forces. But with the world’s eyes turned away, the Iranian government crackdown will only become more effective. This week’s headline? a celebrity is mourned while Iran burns.

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