Safety of journalists is the foundation of press freedom.
Freedom isn’t free. At least some journalists have to risk their lives to get the news.
Journalists haven’t been protected much in spite of being the first person to access the news sources. Some were exiled, imprisoned, and even killed. There were 61 journalists killed and 221 jailed around the world in 2014, along with 404 forced into exile since 2009, according to Committee to Protect Journalists.
Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization, stated in a report that only 1 out of 7 people around the globe can enjoy free press. As the lives of journalists were threatened, they would not be entire free to interview people and get into the heart of story, thereby limiting public’s right to access to information.
“Global press freedom fell to its lowest level in over a decade in 2013,” pointed out by Freedom House in the report, indicating press freedom is threatened in different parts of the world.
In Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, the 79-day Occupy Movement has underlined how little the police force has protected journalists from being hurt, some of them even imposed hatred against the journalists who photographed their unlawful actions during the movement.
Throughout the movement, there were at least 24 journalists being attacked by either police or pro-government protesters, referring to recent report released by PEN American Center, a literary and human rights organisation.
“Our media doesn’t seem to realize press freedom and freedom of expression are suffering a slow death, like a frog being slowly boiled alive,” the PEN America report stated, showing media organizations are being suppressed and threatened by government, or even other terrorist organizations, such as the Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State Militants.
In spite of no death report on attacking Hong Kong journalists, the press freedom has been largely deteriorated as their safety while reporting news is questionable.
Less than a month after the occupation in Hong Kong, another deadly gun attack took place in France on 7 January 2015, killing 8 journalists who worked at a satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The attack put an alarm bell to journalists all over the world—press freedom isn’t truly free.
As the debate on whether the content of this cartoon magazine is appropriate continues, chances are, if not obvious, the sense of fear is imposing to journalists all over the world. Some say it is the magazine insulting to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, therefore the journalists deserved to be killed under gunfire; some defend the journalists’ right to press freely as their safety should be guaranteed under any circumstance.
But the truth is journalists are killed constantly in reality, under the “protection” of Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.