Is Journalism A Crime?


From Al Jazeera

How do you receive your news: Twitter, Facebook, the radio, or an old fashioned newspaper? Do you tweet, post, and or write for any public forum involving your opinion or just because? Even if you don’t believe you are reporting, you are, in fact, a reporter — a person expressing his or her freedom of speech through first amendment rights. Now the question becomes is what you are doing a crime? For many generations reporters have been taking the heat for the information published in the news whether it be hard facts or sugar coated stories.

In recent history, journalists have been targeted for false reporting, inaccurate information, and related acts. There lies another question — what is the true news? Can we trust the news? Though how would one receive information if news reporters didn’t exist? 

Only a few months ago, three journalists from Egypt, and working for Al Jazeera, were jailed under the assumption that they were spreading false news, apparently aiding a Muslim extremist group. The three journalists were initially sentenced to a seven year term. They have denied all accusations against them. Citizens around the world came to their aid to help them achieve a retrial, which has been granted though the date has yet to be determined.

We as humans have the right to freedom of speech, despite a world full of countries that refuse to let us act upon that basic human right. As a journalist, the first amendment is extended to meet the writer’s needs, and gives her the right to edit information. Despite this right, journalists often fear their lives when working on controversial issues, scared of being jailed or worse.

On January 7th, in Paris, France, citizens came together to help the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, as the newsroom of their facility was ambushed by gunfire. In the aftermath of the shooting, twelve were killed and ten were severely wounded. During the ambush, citizens close to the newsroom feared their lives as the rounds unloaded. Two armed and masked men yelled, “God is Great (Allahu Akbar)” and “We have avenged the prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo.” The newspaper headquarters were unmarked due to past threats, most recently terrorist threats, and for the scare of bombs.

As a protest against the killers, victims’ of the shooting will have work published in Charlie Hebdo’s next issue. Charlie refused to let the ones who were murdered die, by publishing their current work.

Why attack someone for doing their job? It is what they are hired to do. The shooters only killed cartoonists. Would you kill someone for doing their job? Would you kill a teacher for teaching their students?

An arson attack occurred at Hamburger Morgenpost Printing Press in Germany as a result of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. Thankfully no one was injured during the attack. The two attacks were believed to be executed by Muslim extremists. Two suspects of the arson were arrested shortly after police arrived on the scene. Which leaves the question: how extensive will this event run? Is this event more than a religious statement? Is this work of rogue ISIS members? Europe has gone on lockdown since the shooting, making Muslims scared for their lives. Is this the society we want to live in?

Why is our world prone to violence? When something goes wrong the world seems to respond violently. Journalists are not the only ones violently attacked — doctors, teachers, and innocent people have lost their lives at the hands of extremists. Is relaying information that one needs to know a crime? That’s all a newspaper is, that’s all Facebook is, and Twitter. So why go after reporters? If you post something that others don’t like, why shouldn’t they go after you? You are only doing what you want to achieve, though for a reporter thats their job. So is journalism a crime?