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June 26, 2019

5/17/2019 10:57:00 AM
We Need a Free Press

Dear Editor:
Friday, May 3 was declared by the United Nations General Assembly as the World Press Freedom Day to celebrate the principles and contributions of the free press around the world.
It was most heartening, when Time Magazine chose in Dec. 2018 to honor the free press in an issue entitled "The Guardians of the War on Truth" as the most influential entity of the year.
The press is under assault worldwide. Everyday an increasing number of journalists and reporters, especially in the growing number of nondemocratic countries are being killed, imprisoned and tortured. All want-to-be dictators have to destroy the press to take power. The brutal murder of Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi certainly jarred us to realize that a battle must be fought to protect those who risk their lives and safety to bring the citizens truth to power.
As Americans, we should be aware that the U.S. is now ranked 48th of 108 countries on treatment and open access for our journalistic corps by Reporters without Borders, World Press Freedom index. This number was a several-point loss from "satisfactory" to "problematic" because of Bush's and Obama's prosecution of whistleblowers using the 1917 Espionage Act.
American presidents have always had a varying degree of dislike for the press, but past presidents realized the important service the press provides. The rhetoric from this White House with "enemies of the people" and "fake news" and rallies where the press corps are threatened has never been witnessed to the degree that we have seen, leading to reporters hiring their own security.
Why haven't all politicians rallied against the dangerous precedent this escalation is causing? Suppose we had no free press, but just a media that echoes the sound bites of the White House. Furthermore, ask a person living in a dictatorship what a free press would mean to their country. Chances are, out of fear, there would be no answer given you!
Protect our democracy, support our free press. Talk to Congress: 202-224-3121.
Edna Slayback
Richland Center

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