Media Free, Mind Slave
context: World Press Freedom Day
Journalists all over the world celebrated the World Press Freedom today as the 3 May has been universally adopted as the day for media people to observe. The universalization of the press freedom day definitely does contain a message: to ensure the free flow of fair, accurate and unbiased information to the people. Press freedom is people’s right to be engaged in communication about the issues and events that concern them.
Empowerment has become a catchword for politicians and media people to reiterate these days. This actually means making people informed about their human rights and enabling them to take up challenges. Perhaps most analysts and critics do understand press freedom from this perspective. However, conflicts of interests naturally keep on going. Hence the need for exercising over the concept of press freedom.
Understanding Press Freedom
As far as press freedom ideals are concerned, remembering Adlai E. Stevenson’s quote would be worth remembering: The free press is the mother of all our liberties and of our progress under liberty. Another democratic definition of press freedom comes from Benjamin Disraeli: The press is not only free, it is powerful. That power is ours. It is the proudest that man can enjoy.
Global media and human rights reports have already confirmed that more than 174 journalists have already been killed in Iraq since the US invasion there. We have no more information about the latest killings there and elsewhere. This shows how endangered press freedom is.
In many countries, misuse of press freedom has become a serious problem. Especially in transitional democracies, media manipulation of politics and political manipulation of media are great problems in the process of utilizing press freedom. In this context, noting Samuel Johnson’s saying would be worthwhile: liberty of the press is a blessing when we are inclined to write against others, and a calamity when we find ourselves overborne by the multitude of our assailants.
Democratic Perspectives on Press Freedom in the 21st Century
The mass media today cannot be really free unless they become ideologically unprejudiced. In fact, the media need to be the multi-ideological front for serving the suffering masses despite their industrial nature. Being industries does not mean getting detached from humanitarian sensitivity and social responsibility. Monetary race may undermine this obligation. It would be worth remembering how successful media and media professionals have become regarding the fulfillment of their social responsibilities.
Only when the mass media can encompass diversity or represent diverse voices without any ideological prejudices, a great deal of press freedom can be enjoyed. There is a growing tendency to misinterpret that press freedom is limited to media work. Media owners’ freedom to suppress contents cannot be considered as press freedom. Press freedom matters a lot in information gathering, processing and presentation.
In countries like Nepal, the working journalists’ act was made 13 years ago but it has not been implemented to this day. This is a direct threat to press freedom in this country where rulers have suppressed media contents at times.
In the third world, journalists have a serious moral obligation to intellectually fight hegemonism and psychological slavery. Media are free but media people are not free from mental slavery. Therefore, today’s press freedom day should remind us that our media may be free but our mind may still be slave. Let our information freedom be a matter to consider. Let there be a clarity in understanding what press freedom is: ownership freedom or expression freedom?
Tags: World Press Freedom , Mind Slave , Press , Political Manipulation , Media Manipulation , Ownership , Communication , Expression , Freedom
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