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article imageOp-Ed: New study exposes a different kind of journalism war

By Paul Wallis     Apr 30, 2015 in World
Sydney - Journalism comes with risks new and old. The new risks are increasing intersections with dangers which didn’t exist in the past. Surveillance, hostage taking, murder, and criminal gangs are all part of the new, nasty, mix.
A group called The Committee to Protect Journalists has published a report detailing the new threats and current issues. The report includes statistics (1192 journalists killed since 1990 among others), outlining cases and methods which are effectively turning journalism into a seriously risky occupation. Political and targeted murders and imprisonments, for example, are also becoming more common.
The group refers to the various murders, hacking and imprisonment scenarios as a method of controlling information by governments, “non-state groups” and criminal organizations like drug cartels.
The report should be read in full to understand the overall implications and threats of the emerging global non-information society. If you’re already familiar with the subject, expect to see some additional, unwelcome, information to go with your current diet of enlightened joy.
The war on journalism
The common factor in the war on journalism is Orwellian in theory, but even Orwell never envisaged a combination of ultra-rich parasitic groups as the mechanics of information. Journalism is a natural enemy of parasitic groups and individuals, although the effect of media exposure in the current environment is debatable. The theory is that information will be acted upon.
The fact is that information is usually buried, even if it is published by the erratic collection of stooges formerly known as guardians of democracy and free speech. Burying the sources of the information is a sort of logical development of this process.
The war on journalism is essentially a war against exposure. The disgusting little secrets might come out. However little may be actually done about those secrets, like the Dolphin Square allegations in the UK, or any one of the endless revelations about US major entities, journalism is blamed for reporting the facts.
It’s understandable that journalists want to deliver important news. After all, that’s what they think they’re there for, for some reason. The public buys information from the publishers, thinking that they’re getting actual information.
In this new environment, the theory is rather different to practice. The large numbers of murders and other actions against journalists indicate that the reportage is delivering real facts, published or not. They don’t shoot people for publishing non-information, unfortunately. If they did, celebrity culture would be in a museum, where it belongs.
Really want a war with journalism, jerks?
There are two basic schools of thought here — the strictly ethical, “proper” form of journalism, and mine. I see no reason to put up with any of these abuses at all. I think payback is required. Someone has to make a few points about how journalism can defend itself without external help and actually do its job.
It’s not going to be pretty, but here it is:
If journalism is now on the defensive, there’s another option, ironically, which would be a lot more effective than simply recording the journalistic death toll every year. Modern journalists, at least the good ones, play by the rules of journalism. They’re supposed to be fair, balanced and deliver useful information in the public interest.
The question is now why bother to do that anymore? This way of doing things is just protecting the abusers. Put it this way — if you don’t obey the laws, why should we? There are far more dangerous weapons than guns and thugs available to fight this war. Nothing is safe from these weapons.
The alternative form of journalism would make the News of the World scandal look like a kindergarten egg and spoon race. Imagine modern journalism in Anonymous form, or Wikileaks, but this time with actual consequences for those under scrutiny. No restrictions, no boundaries, and targeting of offending organizations relentlessly, without holding back.
How many organizations have dirty secrets which could destroy them or start an investor panic? How many “executives” (I nearly wrote “excrement,” for some reason) would be out of jail? How many governments or Fortune 500 companies could stand real scrutiny of their criminal and other illegal associations? How many people could survive inspection of their tax or other business records?
Also to the point- How many people are likely to hold back, when they’ve lost someone? What went around will come around, with a chainsaw, and plenty of people prepared to help.
You guys should be thankful the best journalists play nice. Nobody actually has to be ethical, you know. Now, nobody wants to. There’s no reason to tolerate this abuse in any form.
Imagine a receptive, active public, (the people you’ve been treating like toilet paper for the last few generations, in case you were wondering who they are) armed to the teeth with information, hacking software and DOS capacity and more, with as much information as modern journalism can deliver.
Imagine open season on these nasty, greedy, animalistic organizations. It’d be like Christmas. It’s easier to rob commercial fronts for money laundering than a bank. It’s easier to get information about people than it is to ring them on the phone.
Imagine bank customers taking the law in to their own hands and acting like Wall Street, helping themselves to the billions of illegal dollars these organizations have accumulated. Imagine bureaucrats releasing real information through an uncontrollable network.
Imagine a world getting actual facts and doing something about them, instead of just running updates on what’s not happening about those facts. It’d be chaos, but it’d also be a legitimate defense against these tyrannical groups. There’d be no stopping it. The 5-6 billion people online can do a lot to protect their interests, if they feel like it, with very little effort. A few people could crash the entire global economy in seconds, and this time it wouldn’t just be senile billionaires and their lackeys.
All these people need is information, and there are literally millions of people who know where to find it. Think about how much information could be given to your competitors or someone who hates your guts, and it can be given in a nanosecond or so.
Guess who the people who can make that happen might be? Still think it’s a good idea to fight a war on journalism? This could be a Vietnam every day. Destroying a few of the groups responsible sounds like a nice hobby, actually. “A few clicks and you’re history,” how’s that for a tag line?
Democratic governments (know one?) are supposed to be transparent and accountable to the public. Lack of accountability is not an option. Information is the currency of accountability.
Information is a human right, not a privilege. Journalists must be able to do their jobs. Nobody’s really been playing hardball yet, but it will happen. So — some justice, some respect for the law, and some actual democracy, right now, if you please. That wasn’t a question.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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