While it should come as no surprise to anyone that follows the news or gets depressed by Twitter on a regular basis, freedom of the press – an important check against corruption and the misuse of power in a democracy – is on the decline.
We've been seeing it daily of late: political leaders spewing targeted hate at particular journalists or the outlets they work for. Pundits calling the facts uncovered during deep-dive investigative reporting lies, or alternate versions of the truth, instead of trying to defend their viewpoints or confessing to their bullshit once they've been caught. Hell, Trump went so far as to call journalists "enemies of the people." That's a term that Stalin was fond of.
The assault on the media doesn't stop there, either. With increasing frequency, journalists around the world are facing charges and incarceration for nothing more than doing their jobs. As insane as it is, those are the lucky ones. In some locales, being a journalist can get you killed. It's been common, in recent years, for reporters in Mexico to vanish or to wind up dead – their work to bring the truth to light displeasing to drug cartels and corrupt local officials. And then there's this, from Reporters Without Borders:
The line separating verbal violence from physical violence is dissolving. In the Philippines (down six at 133rd), President Rodrigo Duterte not only constantly insults reporters but has also warned them that they "are not exempted from assassination." In India (down two at 138th), hate speech targeting journalists is shared and amplified on social networks, often by troll armies in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pay. In each of these countries, at least four journalists were gunned down in cold blood in the space of a year.
If you're interested in taking a read of how your country rates on the RSF index of press freedoms, Reporters Without Borders has all the information you need. Head on over to their website, have a stiff drink and gain a better understanding of how, in many countries, the hard-won freedoms we cherish are being pulled out from under us.
Image via Flickr, courtesy of Brent Payne