Press freedom and Braveheart

What do we mean when we talk about freedom? In our first post’s video, Mel Gibson doesn’t mean the same kind of absence of state interference that we refer to …or does he? 

My freedom

What we associate with freedom changes with where we are, what we are doing and in what way we are deprived of certain independences. Now, we are trainee journalists in the UK, one of the leading European economies, modern state. Surely, everything is ok here, isn’t it??   

But Press freedom is not preserved everywhere in the western world. In fact, a look at the index published by the Reporters Without Borders speaks volumes. It unveils how few countries’ situations are declared as “good” and how close some of the countries with “noticable problems” actually are -and we aren’t even talking about the really bad guys yet.

New Pace

A great amount of traditional ways to spread information are successively being superseded by an increasing pace of the digital technologies’ advance. There’s a modern counterpart for pretty much every conventional, traditional mode of media and information dissemination. They offer a wide range of potential advantages to professional and, holding an increasingly important role, citizen journalists.

Challenges

It seems to lie in the nature of things that governments respond to those challenges set by the new media through equipping themselves with increasingly sophisticated technologies. -We’re talking about things like the Great Wall of China or Burma’s tendency to complete shutdowns.

It is becoming an ever increasingly difficult task for journalists to find new ways to use technologies and always stay one step ahead of the government institutions that attempt to censor them. For those seeking to maintain and enhance their ‘freedom of speech’, digital technologies are an essential tool.

Upcoming

On this blog, we will try to discuss some of the struggles and achievements for global press freedom through digital technologies. It’s a powerful thing, freedom, be it for journalists in Europe, Iran, Burma, North Korea or anywhere else in the world. And, once it succeeds over repression, it is

“seven feet tall and consumes [its] opponents with fireballs from [its] eyes and bolts of lightning from [its]…”

-well, let’s not actually go there, shall we.

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About Anne Gonschorek

I am a globetrotter. A dreamer. A geek. A perfectionist. And hopelessly romantic. I am scared of a lot of things and always eager to challenge each and every single one of them. I am German, currently being lost located in Falmouth/Cornwall. Above all that, I am now a multimedia journalist. I just happened to find out that the sun actually does shine in England. ...sometimes. For all the other days, I hold it with Bob Dylan: "Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet."
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3 Responses to Press freedom and Braveheart

  1. Jess Dowse says:

    I think everyone thinks about freedom differently. There are obvious countries which suffer from the suppression of the press, like Burma…then those who have limited freedom in a more subtle way. For instance, Italy….It’s broadcast media is practically totally owned by Berlusconi… which obviously puts it really low on the freedom house list and with RSF… but regardless of this… even the relatively free newspapers have problems… when they try to challenge the government, or produce some hard hitting journalism it fails to have impact because 80% of Italians consume only broadcast media… thus they are not taken seriously and their stories become a joke. So even their ‘free’ press is not really free in the sense that it’s success is governed by other restrictions.
    So, these countries must have vastly differing views on freedom. I guess what I’m trying to get at is…do you think there’s a sliding scale of freedom, or do you think that one country sees freedom the same as another? Because then I assume that will effect the way they value digital technology?

  2. Adrian Naik says:

    A very good point, Jess. A ‘free press’ is not just one which can say what it likes, but one which has the power to hold the executive to account. If it has no power then it is not free.

    With the case of Italy, the press is not at all free. With Berlusconi’s power over the media he owns, they cannot criticise him freely. A ‘free press’ must include all media, and not just print, especially when the print media are so ineffective.

    Personally, I do not feel there is an easy way to classify press freedom, such as a scale. It is too complex and each country too individual to allow such a crude method to work. But by examining specific examples of countries where there is little freedom of the press we can use them for comparison.

    Your excellent example of Italy can be compared to apartheid South Africa, where the broadcast media were controlled by the government, while the print media had more freedom to criticise, but struggled to find an audience. In both examples digital technology have worked against press freedom.

  3. Anne Gonschorek says:

    Yeah, you’re both right, it’s tricky to clarify. But I think, the way in which the government restricts press and broadcasting media definitely influences how much journalists value digital technologies.

    In Russia, many of the investigative journalists (have to) switch to online media to write about critical stories. That’s either because not even the (generally bolder) newspapers want to publish them or it is simply to dangerous to be doing their job in the country itself. I guess you could compare that to Italy.

    Another example would probably be Burma. The country’s government did not allow any foreign journalists whatsover. The same applies of course to those within the country that would report anything not agreeing with their propaganda. Journalists of the ‘Democratic Voice of Burma’ (http://www.dvb.no/) were and are using digital cameras and satellites to get pictures out of the country. For them, digital technologies are essential to tell the world the truth about what’s going on in Burma.

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