Journalists become targets as democratization expands.


As a free and vibrant press becomes more widespread around the world, journalists are increasingly becoming the targets of harassment and worse by those who would stifle the free exchange of information, according to a new report.

The Committe for the Protection of Journalist (CPJ) released its annual report in March documenting the significant number of journalists killed and imprisoned in 1993 for practising their profession. The report was released at a press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington.

Bernard Shaw, a Cable News Network (CNN) journalist and a member of CPJ's Board of Directors, explained that he was participating in the event "to join ranks with our brothers and sisters of journalism".

He emphasised that despite documentation of an increased number of attacks, reporters would not be intimidated. "There are no purple hearts for journalism," Shaw stressed, referring to the purple heart medal awarded to US soldiers who have been wounded in battle. "Reporting the truth is enough. Whether Bosnia or Beijing, whether Colombia or Cambodia, we journalists are the eyes and ears of the world. We have become enlarged targets for enemies of the truth. We are not afraid. We will not go away."

He urged his fellow journalists at the press conference - and by, extension his fellow journalists around the world - not to be "sweet-talked. Around the world, enemies of the truth have now made journalists active targets, because enemies of the truth are now desperate. They will do anything."

He cited the example of Hungary, explaining that "with elections less than two months away, well-known journalists working at government radio and television stations have been fired. Clearly, the thousands of demonstrators protesting in the streets of Budapest do not believe the government claims that it is trying to save money."

William Orne, the CPJ's Executive Director, noted that while the number of journalists increases annually as press freedoms expand, the number of attacks is also rising. Since 1987, the number of incidents documented by the CPJ has more than tripled.

The CPJ annual report for 1993 documents at least 56 journalists killed on the job and 126 reporters currently imprisoned in 28 countries.

CPJ Board Member Gene Roberts, a journalism professor at the University of Maryland, noted that countries which hold journalists in prison amount to a "roll of dishonour". Among them, he lists China, which the CPJ says holds more...

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