We live in a day and age when the media is under attack; scrutinized for saturating the news with celebrity scandals and gossip and neglecting the important actual newsworthy stories. But are they really to blame? Our society soaks up the gossip like a sponge, almost asking for this type of “news,” so is it really their fault for giving what we desire to us (This is a tangent and not the topic of this post however, I’m happy that I just stumbled upon my next topic. That’s right classmates: DIBS!)? Journalists on our home front are feeling the critical wrath of the public, yet journalists in other countries are punished with jail time, physical harm and sometimes even death for nothing more than reporting the truth or speaking their opinions. It seems as though American reporters have it easy now, doesn’t it? What if there was an organization to fight for these persecuted professionals? Well upon my research of the unfairly punished reporters topic, I came across an organization that fights for press freedoms internationally. Reporters Without Borders is journalism’s vigilante, the industry’s dark knight if you will.
Founded in 1985, Reporters Without Borders researches and reports press freedom violations throughout the world. Present in all five continents the organization works closely with local groups who fight for the same cause. Registered in France as a non-profit, Reporters Without Borders stays afloat financially with small and large donations, public grants, member dues, sales of calendars, auctions and sales of its bi-annual albums of photojournalism. Reporters Without Borders partakes in many causes ranging from defending imprisoned journalists and media assistants, fights against unjust censorship laws, raising funds for more than 100 journalists and media outlets in financial need, providing financial help to families of imprisoned journalists and efforting to improve work conditions, namely safety issues, to those reporting around the globe especially in areas ripe with war.
I can spend a lot more time speaking of the organization and what they do/ have done, or you can go to their website and research for yourselves. It’s pretty amazing how such an important global organization has gone unnoticed by me. Granted I’m not a Journalism major, but might as well be for most of the classes for a Public Relations student are the same. This begs a question: How many of you have heard of Reporters Without Borders before reading this?
The fight for the very important freedom of speech lives on beyond our borders and it’s nice to see a well oiled machine such as this standing on the front lines. A famous journalist, George Bernard Shaw, once wrote “Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books nobody reads.” Next time you find yourself complaining about the media, think of reporters in Iraq, their hardships and think of Reporters Without Borders helping to change the world one journalist at a time.