Why Australians should care about World Press Freedom Day: My blog for No Fibs

By MARK PEARSON Follow @Journlaw

CITIZEN journalism site No Fibs has just posted my latest blog on today’s international marking of World Press Freedom Day.

It got a nice nod from Paul Barry of ABC’s Media Watch. Cheers Paul!

You can view the full piece here, but here is a taste:

—-

Readers of the NoFibs site reap the rewards of citizen journalists expressing their news and views with a high level of free expression by world standards.

So why should Australians care about media freedom on World Press Freedom Day 2014?

Quite simply, because it is a ‘fragile freedom’ – continually under threat and only noticed by most people once they have lost it.

Just ask any of the refugees who have fled to Australia over the past century from regimes that have robbed them of their human rights. One of their first responses is typically that they love their new home country because it is ‘free’ and they can express themselves freely here.

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 4.50.16 PMWhen you look at international indices of media freedom like that of Reporters Without Borders, Australia (ranked 28th) sits in stark contrast to the censorship and intimidation of journalists in many other countries like Vietnam (174th), China (175th) and Somalia (176th).

Journalists are not usually jailed in this country (although Melbourne broadcaster and blogger Derryn Hinch was a recent exception) – and they are certainly not tortured or murdered for exercising their right to free expression here.

At least in Hinch’s case he was duly tried and convicted (for breach of a suppression order) in a legal system that is open, just and in accordance with the rule of law.

The same cannot be said of another jailed Australian journalist, Peter Greste, who remains in jail in Egypt after 130 days along with five of his Al Jazeera media colleagues (and 14 others) on trumped up charges of defaming the country and of consorting with the Muslim Brotherhood.

While Greste’s plight has been highlighted here because of his nationality, he is just one of 168 journalists jailed throughout the world this year for just doing their job. The expression ‘shoot the messenger’ takes on a chilling reality when you also consider the 25 journalists, bloggers and citizen journalists killed already in 2014.

Australia’s relatively good performance in these press freedom rankings belies the fact that there are ongoing and emerging threats to free expression.

… and that’s just half of it. Read the full blog at No Fibs.

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2014

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s