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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Happy World Press Day 

Belated happy World Press Day to our news and views providers, on which we, bloggers, lead parasitical existence (as some would argue).

On that occasion, Reporters Without Borders has released their annual report about the state of press freedom and journalistic safety around the world. Not surprisingly,

Iraq was singled out as "world's largest minefield" for journalists, where 19 journalists were killed last year and more than 15 were reported kidnapped. In all, 56 journalists have been killed since fighting began two years ago, seven less than the 63 killed during the two-decadelong U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
This unfortunately tends to happen when you put very large numbers of journalists among very large number of shootings and explosions. In Afghanistan, by contrast, 1 journalist was kidnapped, 6 were physically attacked, and 9 were threatened in 2004, but no one was killed, maybe because there are hardly any journalists left there to report the good news.

Philippines has meanwhile emerged as a very deadly place for journalists, with 15 killed over the last two years and 56 over the last decade. There, local governments are a lot deadlier than insurgents. Another unpleasant place has been described by Reporters Without Borders as a "kind of hell" for journalists and its Home Affairs Minister as a press freedom "predator". No, again, it's not Iraq; it's Bangladesh (but Shaukat Mahmud, general secretary of BangladeshÂ’s National Press Club, thinks the report is unfair to his country:

"The report is unfair, some of those who are killed in the country areas are not killed because of their journalistic work. Some are killed by private mafias because of arguments over business and infighting between journalists.")
Cuba "is the hemisphere's only prison for journalists and the second biggest for them in the world, after China (with 26)", and in Venezuela, Chavez has "hounded the 'oligarchic' media at the slightest criticism of his rule, thus encouraging violence against journalists."

Kenya's First Lady, Lucy Kibaki, has meanwhile decided to celebrate the World Press Day by storming with her bodyguards into the newsroom of the nation's largest newspaper, demanding the arrest of journalists whose work she didn't like and bitchslapping a cameraman.

And in the United States, the media is being persecuted by bloggers. Although Reporters Without Borders think that the judiciary is
a bigger problem, though they rejoice that "the Abu Ghraib torture scandal and the presidential election campaign pulled the US media out of the patriotic lethargy that had gripped it since the 11 September 2001 attacks."

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