Editorial Roundup: Jailing and assaulting journalists on the rise

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, December 29, 2020

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This year of worsts has also proven the worst for journalists around the world, including here in the United States.

In its annual survey, the Committee to Protect Journalists found that 274 journalists were jailed this year as of Dec. 1.

The number of journalists killed this year doubled to 31 compared to last year. While some of those deaths were from dangerous combat assignments, 21 were murdered in retaliation for their work.

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Leading the world in the imprisonment and murder of journalists is a list of the usual suspects: China, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Belarus. Two-thirds of journalists in jail are charged with anti-state crimes such as terrorism or membership in banned groups.

Although the Founding Fathers saw fit to include protection for a press free of government interference in the First Amendment of the Constitution, journalists in the U.S. have seen an unprecedented number of arrests. The survey shows 110 journalists were arrested or criminally charged and about 300 journalists were assaulted.

Those assaults were in some cases carried out by police while reporters and photographers were covering Black Lives Matter protests while in other cases protesters assaulted journalists who were doing their job.

The CPJ report says the main reason for the increase in violence and jailing in the United States can easily be traced to the polarized political climate, militarized law enforcement, and vitriol toward the media.

And the increased violence and suppression toward journalists here and around the world is largely due to President Donald Trump’s lack of global leadership in promoting democratic values and for his unrelenting attacks on the media.

Egypt and other authoritarian governments used Trump’s “fake news” mantra to justify their actions. In the United States journalists have been repeatedly targeted and mocked by Trump during his rallies.

During one a rally in Pittsburgh in September, Trump talked of the police violence toward reporters during BLM protests in Minneapolis and elsewhere calling them “actually a beautiful sight.”

Fortunately the Biden administration can help restore press freedom and human rights around the world by restoring the global leadership that’s been lost under the Trump administration. And he can ensure accountability for the domestic attacks on journalists and begin to roll back the poisonous rhetoric of the past four years that has created so much political and social polarization.

— Mankato Free Press, Dec. 29

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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