A free press is crucial to democracy. The recent murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi highlights not only the dangers of being a journalist, but also the importance of a free press.
Washington Post columnist, Khashoggi, dissappeared on Oct. 2 “after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage,” said an Oct. 23 Reuters article.
The Post says it received Khashoggi’s latest column from his translator and assistant the day after Khashoggi was reported missing. The Post published his column on Oct. 17, saying it had held off doing so because it had hoped he would return.
Turkish officials now suspect Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents when he was in the consulate, Reuters said.
Khashoggi was barred from writing by the Saudi royal family because he was critical of U.S. President Donald Trump, according to an Oct. 18 Business Insider article. Khashoggi often criticized the Saudi government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the article said.
In Khashoggi’s last column, “Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression,” he wrote about the threats to free media. Khashoggi wrote that “Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.” He added, “They have also arrested local reporters and pressured advertisers to harm the revenue of specific publications.”
A government that censors its press and arrests reporters to silence them isn’t right. Khashoggi has become part of a larger statistic on how many journalists are killed for their work.
In 2018, 60 journalists were killed, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), whose website says it is the world’s biggest non-governmental organization that specializes in defending media freedom. RSF statistics also show that 170 journalists are imprisoned around the world. These statistics cover journalists whom RSF established were killed or imprisoned for reasons related to their journalistic work.
These numbers are alarming. There has always been hostility toward the media. The press should have the freedom to fairly report the news without fearing retaliation, death or imprisonment.
We are lucky to have the First Amendment in the U.S. granting us freedom of the press, whereas other parts of the world don’t have the same freedom. A free press has been under attack around the world for sometime now and many reporters are unjustly killed for doing their job. It’s important that people around the world continue to fight for a free press.
The Voice is intended to best represent the collective opinion of The Editorial Board. It is written by The Setonian’s Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor.