Pressing on

McKenzie Nelson, Editor-in-Chief

Over a month ago a Saudi national and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, died in Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. Khashoggi was a journalist that often decried the Saudi government. It was because of his criticism that he was a target of the government and had to flee to Turkey.

For the last month, the Turkish authorities have been trying to investigate the murder. The stories that have come out, from Saudi Arabia, are contradictory to each other. Which does little to help answer the question of what horrors that took place preceding the killing of Khashoggi.

Khashoggi’s death put an emphasis on the struggle faced by journalist throughout the world, and serves as a reminder of similar injustices faced by journalist.

The oppression of free speech, through the attacks on journalists, is nothing new. Since 1998, the Committee to Protect Journalist has recorded over 1055 journalist targeted and killed due to their occupation. In 2018 alone there have been 45 journalists killed, not to mention those imprisoned or still missing.

The power that journalists wield is so great that governments, in places like Saudi Arabia, monitor the press so closely to make sure it reflects the country and its government in a positive light. Governments know the way to control people’s opinions is to censor the press, the one thing that gives people a voice.  

When journalists press for the facts and just wish to find the truth, corrupt governments are threatened and become violent towards those that seek the truth, journalists.  

Apart from the journalists that have been killed, the number of journalist imprisoned has tripled since 2000 and is now at 259 currently imprisoned.

Ironically, Turkey, the country that leads the world in the amount of journalists imprisoned is the country at the forefront of the investigation into the killing of Khashoggi. Currently, Turkey has 81 journalist imprisoned which is more than double the amount China, the second highest country, has.

While America doesn’t and hasn’t historically had a problem with killing and imprisoning journalists, there have been times when presidents have been more closed off to the press, like Nixon and Trump. For the most part, presidents and politicians have taken the stance that while press may be annoying to work with, the principle of free speech that they represent is at the center of America’s values.

One of the largests critics of the press was founding father, Thomas Jefferson. He often called out the press for being unreliable still came to the conclusion: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Press should be centered around the truth and not politics. It is important that as a worldwide community we support the efforts of journalists to uncover the truth whether they write what we want to hear or not.