High overcast, quiet and dry this early Wednesday on California’s north coast, and the feel is not unpleasant.
Soundless and near-weather-less here, but back in the US southeast, a possible “catastrophic event” via an enormous winter storm bearing down on the huddled masses — another episode of “global weirding” becoming more the ‘new normal’ in the nowadays.
Another weirding is freedom of the press — catastrophic, too.
(Illustration found here).
As a former newspaper reporter/editor and somebody who’s been in and out of journalism for nearly 40 years, I’m more than distressed at the future of news-gathering worldwide, but especially in the land of freedom, the US. And especially with President Obama, who though campaigned on “transparency,” has turned into (or maybe has always been) a secrecy nut.
Invested within the current bullshit, “mainstream” journalism is the pure lack of shame, and/or pride in the job.
In 1975, I felt my lowly entry-level position of ‘police reporter’ was a dream — the neatest job in all the world.
Gone with the wind of nasty-faced politics.
Last year, press freedom in the US took a great slap in the face. The international journalism group, Reporters Without Borders, has released its new world press freedom index showing how news gathering is getting throttled, with the US dropping 13 spaces downward to rank 46, behind Romania and just ahead of Haiti.
Details via HuffPost:
Reporters Without Borders writes that the U.S. faced “one of the most significant declines” in the world last year.
Even the United Kingdom, whose sustained campaign to criminalize the Guardian’s reporters and intimidate journalists has made headlines around the world, dropped only three spots, to number 33.
The U.S. fell as many spots as Paraguay, where “the pressure on journalists to censor themselves keeps on mounting.”
Citing the Justice Department’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers, including its secret seizure of Associated Press phone records, the authors write that “freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices.
Investigative journalism often suffers as a result.”
The threats facing newsgathering in the U.S. are felt by both longstanding journalists like New York Times national security reporter James Risen, who may serve jail time for refusing to reveal a source, and non-traditional digital journalists like Barrett Brown.
Brown is a freelance journalist who has reported extensively on private intelligence firms and government contractors.
He now faces more than 100 years in jail for linking to stolen documents as part of his reporting, even though he had no involvement in the actual theft.
The United States’ new press freedom ranking comes on the heels of a new and dangerous campaign against Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who have reported on the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
In recent weeks, high-ranking members of the intelligence community and members of Congress have called NSA journalists “accomplices” to Snowden’s leaks, and accused them of trafficking in stolen goods.
And as Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation points out, these comments are only the most recent in a long line of attacks.
In 2012, after a series of high-profile journalist arrests at Occupy protests, the United States dropped 27 places in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, landing in 47th place.
The following year saw some progress as the U.S. climbed back up to 33rd place, but the last year has erased those gains.
The Reporters Without Borders study makes it clear that the struggles for freedom of expression and freedom of the press are global in scope, and deeply connected across borders.
“Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example,” the authors write.
And again, WTF!
And two-faced, hypocrite-bullshit from the Obama White House: “The United States is deeply concerned that foreign journalists in China continue to face restrictions that impede their ability to do their jobs, including extended delays in processing journalist visas, restrictions on travel to certain locations deemed ‘sensitive’ by Chinese authorities and, in some cases, violence at the hands of local authorities,” (Jay) Carney wrote in the statement.
And another even-more-loud, WTF!