Uniting in a crisis — a global issue
  • opinion Written by Farhana Haq Rahman (Rome)
  • interpress service
  • World Press Freedom Day 2024

For individuals and the media as a whole, this crisis is existential.

Nearly 100 journalists and media workers have been killed since the Israel-Gaza war began in October last year, the deadliest death toll in the conflict zone in decades. Committee to Protect Journalists Say. Some people were arrested, injured, or went missing. My family was also killed. Some journalists understandably believe that they are being targeted by the Israeli military.

Beyond the threat to life and limb, tens of thousands of media jobs will be lost in 2023, and this year is no different. Entire outlets have been shut down, hijacked, or malfunctioning.

In our world of digital disruption and social media, a source of bias and disinformation, audiences are becoming increasingly divided, as are the news outlets they turn to.

Bots and AI-generated deepfakes will further exacerbate this politicized confusion and mistrust. A flood of trivia, sophisticated threats, and outdated threats are a powerful combination that erodes freedom and democracy.

Russia is experiencing a mass exodus of journalists. There are still traces of the past in Hong Kong. The Myanmar regime is killing and imprisoning journalists. But in the increasingly polarized United States, statistics show that more than two-thirds of Americans say they don’t trust the mass media. There is great coverage, but much of it will be ignored or completely ignored.

South Africa’s subscription-based Daily Maverick shut down for an entire day in April to draw attention to how market failures are endangering independent journalism.

“Without journalism, our democracy and economy would collapse,” the outlet declared.

How all these very different factors are coming together is clear from media coverage of global climate change and the wide range of threats to the environment.

The environment is not only a highly dangerous reporting topic, sometimes akin to conflict reporting, but also polluting industries, some of them large state-owned enterprises and their partners, are a source of disinformation. politics, academia, “non-profit” foundations, and the mass media itself.

UNESCO dedicates this year’s World Press Freedom Day to the importance of journalism and freedom of expression in the context of the current global environmental crisis. As UNESCO says, “Independent journalists, as well as scientists, are critical in helping our societies distinguish fact from lies and manipulation in order to make informed decisions, such as on environmental policy.” It plays a role.”

“Investigative journalists also shine a light on environmental crimes, expose corruption and powerful interests, and sometimes pay the ultimate price for their work.”

As the world’s largest democracy holds elections 10 years after Narendra Modi first took office as prime minister, Reporters Without Borders reports that 28 journalists have been killed in India since then. It pointed out that at least 13 of them had written articles related to the environment, primarily land. Confiscation and illegal mining. Several people were killed during an investigation into the so-called sand mafia, an organized crime network that supplies the construction industry.

Reporters Without Borders ranked India 161st out of 180 countries in 2023 World Press Freedom Index.

In the Global South, indigenous, local, and independent journalists and communicators are particularly vulnerable to violence and intimidation because they operate in remote areas without adequate backup and resources.

But in the world’s developed democracies, which have ushered in mass extinctions of biodiversity, environmental pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions that overheat the planet, major media outlets actively support them by partnering with fossil fuel companies.・Agitating.

As revealed in report According to Drilled and DeSmog, many major media outlets have “in-house brand studios that create editorials, videos, and even entire events and podcasts for advertisers,” many of them fossil fuel companies.

“Politico, Reuters, Bloomberg, the NYT, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times all produce content for oil companies that directly contradicts what their climate reporters publish. We know that up to a third of people can actually tell the difference between advertising content and news coverage.”

Journalists, particularly those covering the climate crisis and ecological collapse, must also confront the largely invisible contradictions that impede efforts to engage and inform the public.

How can we convey the magnitude of the danger facing us and our planet to a global audience already prostrate under the barrage of terrible attacks? How do people resist what one American political scientist called “insane mediocrity”?

He was referring to Donald Trump’s violent, sexist, and racist rhetoric, which is heard so often that it sometimes provokes little media response. The phrase could be used to describe other kinds of new normals that are dangerously tolerated.

There are no easy answers to all of this. Freedom of the press depends on that. It also depends on our own honesty and reliability.

farhana haq rahman IPS Inter Press Service Senior Vice President and IPS Noram Executive Director. She served as the elected IPS Secretary-General from 2015 until 2019. A journalist and communications expert, she is also a former senior official at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All rights reservedSource: Interpress Service

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