Yesterday, a beheading video of American Journalist James Foley spread through social media. He had been captured by Islamic State extremist group in 2012, and they killed him and made the beheading video labeled as a “Message to America.” John Drescher, executive editor at The News & Observer, mentions, “Media freedoms down, journalist deaths up across the world. Remember James Foley.” He criticized poor surrounding of media freedom and emphasizes the importance of media freedom. He argued that free press and free media stamp out corruption and encourage creativity and innovation as well as American people have a voice, and they have a debate, and they finally make the best idea whether that’s politics, government, business or health care. That is, the media freedom influences various aspects of society such as politics, government, business or health care and develop them, so the media freedom is important. However, currently the media freedom are in danger. Drescher mentions,
“But for journalists, this is a dangerous time. About 55 journalists a year were killed from 2000 to 2002. Since 2009, more than 100 journalists a year have died, according to the International Press Institute. Sometimes they die while reporting at the scene of combat. But often they are intentionally killed by government police or rebel soldiers.”
Media, in the United States, is relatively much freer than the Middle East. So, when they go to dangerous areas in the Middle East, such as Iraq or Syria, their professionalism against the rule of the countries. According to “Commercialism and Professionalism in the American News Media,” Hallin explains the professionalism that journalists are supposed to serve the public as whole, and not particular interests. Also, they should report ‘events’ from a non-political and non-sectarian standpoint, relying on neutral criteria of newsworthiness. So, other governments which restrict media freedom are not ready to accept the American journalists. The governments do not want to show their politics or civil war in the world. Why? They must have something wrong, which should not be open in public. So, the journalists accept risk. If so, who could convey fact? and how do people recognize skewed fact without the journalists?
The journalists are participated in the war in order to convey vivid information to audiences. Journalists who do not have a weapon but a camera stay close to the war as much as soldiers do. Government police and rebel soldiers have eyes on the journalist. It is hard for them to save themselves. As they are in danger of reporting, media freedom is threatened.
Hallin, D.C. 1996. “Commercialism and Professionalism in the American News Media,” in James Curran and Micheal Gurevitch, eds., Mass Media and Society