Hatred of journalists on the rise worldwide, watchdog says

Reporters Without Borders said that many democratically elected leaders “no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning,” singling out US President Donald Trump for his media-bashing. (AP)
Updated 25 April 2018
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Hatred of journalists on the rise worldwide, watchdog says

PARIS: Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders says hostility toward journalists is growing worldwide, often encouraged by political leaders — even in democratic countries.
The group’s annual global index of media freedom released Wednesday found an overall rise in animosity toward reporters and a drop in freedoms, notably in former Soviet states but also in countries from the US to the Philippines.
The group says many democratically elected leaders “no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning,” singling out US President Donald Trump for his media-bashing. It also notes the recent killings of reporters in EU members Slovakia and Malta.
The watchdog says authoritarian regimes are trying to “export their vision” that media should be compliant.
It says hate speech targeting journalists is amplified on social networks by government-friendly trolls in India, Russia and elsewhere.


What We Are Reading Today: Debating War and Peace by Jonathan Mermin

Updated 15 October 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Debating War and Peace by Jonathan Mermin

  • Mermin shows that if there is no debate over US policy in Washington, there is no debate in the news
  • The author constructs a new framework for thinking about press-government relations

The First Amendment ideal of an independent press allows American journalists to present critical perspectives on government policies and actions; but are the media independent of government in practice? Here Jonathan Mermin demonstrates that when it comes to military intervention, journalists over the past two decades have let the government itself set the terms and boundaries of foreign policy debate in the news.

Analyzing newspaper and television reporting of US intervention in Grenada and Panama, the bombing of Libya, the Gulf War, and US actions in Somalia and Haiti, he shows that if there is no debate over US policy in Washington, there is no debate in the news. 

Journalists often criticize the execution of US policy, but fail to offer critical analysis of the policy itself if actors inside the government have not challenged it. Mermin ultimately offers concrete evidence of outside-Washington perspectives that could have been reported in specific cases, and explains how the press could increase its independence of Washington in reporting foreign policy news. 

The author constructs a new framework for thinking about press-government relations, based on the observation that bipartisan support for US intervention is often best interpreted as a political phenomenon, not as evidence of the wisdom of US policy. Journalists should remember that domestic political factors often influence foreign policy debate. The media, Mermin argues, should not see a Washington consensus as justification for downplaying critical perspectives.