Research Paper: Journalism and Press Freedom Changes

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Journalism and Press Freedom

Changes in technology and other influences; have shaped the way of media communication. The freedom of the press relates to the freedom of expression and communication through various mediums. These mediums include publications, radio, or electronic media. However, there have been advancements in technology over the last decade, meaning that press freedom takes paradigm shift. These shifts have made it necessary for states to limit their interference on media and press institutions. While press freedom is fundamental for media practitioners in the 21st century, it is also important in equal measure for preservation of such rights through legal amendments or constitutions' of nations (Reese 173-187). This freedom, however, does not mean that media players practice to the extent of revealing state secrets of nations.

It is crucial for media houses and practitioners to respect government information. In normal circumstances, it is the responsibility of the state to protect members of the press whether national or international. This means that, the state distinguishes material that should be made private or public. The state might classify information as sensitive and disclosure of such information may interfere with its sovereignty. Media laws in many governments trace its origin to sunshine laws, which are essential in defining the interest of the nation (Deuze 448-451). Such degrees of freedoms of the media ensure printing, press and publishing activities of media players abide to laws and the constitution.

Why Journalism is a dangerous job

Journalism is dangerous is perhaps one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Journalists' task is to collect information by way of research and reporting. However, in their routine they sometimes expose themselves to danger. Journalists come in danger with respect to reporting in states where freedom of the press is not a right and in cases of armed conflicts. Journalists go to the extent of reporting political, corruption and harassment cases. These do not go well with political leaders in some states, and there have been reports of journalists murdered over decades. Journalists are murdered, tortured, while other have gone missing and media houses attacked (Reese 173-187)

With all of these deaths and kidnappings, it is painful for a practicing journalist to note that, investigations as well as prosecutions are rare. These have necessitated other players to fight for press freedom. UNESCO and the Committee for the Protection of Journalist are the most important players in protecting press freedom in today's turbulent world. The Committee for the Protection of Journalist puts the number of journalist killed worldwide at 44 in the year 2010. Statistics of the year 2009 puts the number at 73 with 29 in Philippines alone.

According to reports of CPJ (Committee for the Protection of Journalist) and UNESCO, the most dangerous places for a journalist are Iraq, Somalia, Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Columbia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Mexico, Russia, Pakistan, and India represent other dangerous places for a journalist. Most of these countries have weak political systems, or they are at a state of war. Since journalism involves the collection and reporting of information, however, trivial, journalists have to endure all of these challenges.

Theories of Journalism

Journalism as a profession has its own theories or concepts. There have been contributions from media scholars in developing these theories, thus in broad perspectives, the Authoritarian, libertarian, communist and social responsibility represent the profession. Looking at the Authoritarian approach, press freedom depends on the influence of the national leadership. Since leaders and people holding high government position control processes in the country, freedom of mass media depends on how much of such freedoms a leader may permit.

Libertarian theory traces its roots in the seventeenth century. The theory's main function is to look for the truth, as well as restrain political interference in media practices. However, it is impossible to attain these freedoms if states control functions of media houses. These have led to the development of new ideas, which has made the press a fourth party to states. Media houses and practitioners now supplement efforts of the judiciary, executive, and the parliament. Karl Marx perpetuated communist theory. According to him, a communist society is the mass media. In these theory mass media is essential in expanding socialist systems rather than promoting truth. Mass media are an integral part of the states and instruments for communication with its citizens. On the other hand, social responsibility theory concerns with the responsibility of the press to the society. The theory requires members of the press to respect freedoms of citizens and to uphold moral standards while undertaking tasks (Machado 18-21).

The case of Cuba

During the period when Fidel Castro controlled the government of Cuba, media press was under management by the state. Many Cubans respect contributions of the press to their social and political development. The country, as well as its enemy, has long used media houses to promote agendas. With the entry of Castro, media houses that had profited during Batista's rule, came under pressure from castro's government (Teering 21-24). These came with laws that transformed the functioning of media houses. Presently, Cuba ranks low on press freedom. Many journalist and reporters in the country either get jail sentences or are harassed because of strict government guidelines and surveillance. Castro's governments, limits access to alternative sources of information making the countries media players act puppets of the state.

Radio channels, music, movies, books, and newspapers are highly censored in Cuba. Establishment of bad institutions and continuous oppression in Cuba has manipulated citizen's freedom of speech. At the end of 1959, the country was turned into a communist state under Fidel Castro rule. Although Castro recognizes the freedom of media in Cuba, his censorship proves a challenge in ensuring freedom of the media. In Cuba, what one refers to freedom of speech is subject to censorship by the government. Although there is a perception that freedom of the press in Cuba exists, it is just a public notion (Salwen 139-153). In Cuba, there have been reports of killed journalist and arrests. Most of these incidences go unreported due to the suppressive nature of the regime.

Cuba's laws on free speech are the most restrictive. These laws prohibit ownership of media stations by private individuals. The government further prohibits free speech by journalists, and only allows the journalist to practice if they conform to socialists aims. There are laws in Cuba entrenched in the penal code that impose lengthy sentences or even death to this journalist who work against the sovereignty of the state. There are laws relating to criminalizing "enemy propaganda" which restrict freedom of speech in disguise (Teering 21-24). However, one tends to believe that nations have to guard their sovereignty from oppressive enemies. From history, it is a fact that media can have opposite as well as a positive effect on a society. Therefore, powerful nations tend to use media propaganda to incite citizens against their state. Media in today's generation has become a war weapon and tools to pass propaganda.

March 2011 marks a period when three journalists were detained by Castro's government. This was a period where political dissidents were imprisoned all around Cuba. At that period, the government arrested 29 journalists and secretly punished them. It was during 2009 when Du Albert; the head of Habana Press agency got detained to serve a three-year jail sentence for distributing propaganda of the enemy and disrespecting the state. A report by the Committee to protect journalists indicates that the government of Cuba still practices repressive practices on the freedom of speech. The intention of the state is to manipulate free flow of information. The organization further argues that, the government continued to persecute journalists. The government uses such measures as arbitrary arrests, smear campaigns, detention surveillance, and beatings (Teering 21-24). Like Cuba, other states in the world have strategies that affect the freedom of states. It is logical that not even the most advanced countries of the world control flow of information within their borders. With the ever-increasing security threats from terrorist and other organizations, governments have to ensure that they survey all information.

Influence of Technology

Technology advancement has an influence on journalism. In this period, information flow in countries is much faster due to technological advancement. Technological advancement translates to real time transmission of information. It is easier with the digital age to broadcast T.V and radio frequency. With the advancement of technology, journalists can make and save data in huge volumes as compared to the previous era. With the advancement of technology, it has now become easier for media practitioners to publish their works. However, with the increasing growth in social media, there are fewer restrictions, which at times give space for terrorist to transmit negative propaganda.

Technology as a whole helps in the freedom of speech. New form of media is interactive, digitalized, and efficient for converging information. The new media platform assists in delivery of information, entertainment, and help in communication of information relating to commerce and assist media educators.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Journalism and Press Freedom Changes.  (2013, December 5).  Retrieved May 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/journalism-press-freedom-changes/4838728

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"Journalism and Press Freedom Changes."  Essaytown.com.  December 5, 2013.  Accessed May 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/journalism-press-freedom-changes/4838728.