A World of Conflict and Censorship
- + War of Ideas
- Watch "War of Ideas"
- Interview With the Reporter
- Extended Interviews
- The Arab Media Revolution
- Middle East Media Hubs
- + Requiem
- Watch "Requiem"
- A Turkish Winter
- Reporting in Iraq: A "Catastrophe" for Journalists
- Death Toll
- Russia: Silencing Dissent
- Conflict and Censorship
- The Guardian "Unlimited"
- South Korea: Everyone's A Journalist
Roll over and click on the map to learn more about the world's trouble spots for journalists.
The comments are excerpted from an interview with Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He was interviewed by FRONTLINE/World reporter Martin Smith.
"China is unique, not just in Asia but globally, because you have competing trends. You have an explosion of information in China. You have a booming Internet. You have a rapidly changing society and massive economic growth. The ability of people to communicate with each other has increased dramatically. So you're seeing the development of both new and somewhat more open media outlets. The counter trend is that the Chinese government has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged the once widely held notion that the Internet is impossible to control. An estimated 30,000 people monitor the Internet in China. They're doing it through technology and constructing firewalls, some of which are constructed with the help of U.S. technology companies. And they are putting journalists in jail. China is the world's leading jailer of journalists. Thirty-two journalists are in jail in China."
"When you look around the world, there are two main threats to journalists. There are governments that are highly repressive and throw journalists in jail. And there are governments that are simply unable to protect the press. That's the case in the Philippines. You have provincial journalists in the Philippines who are at the mercy of criminal gangs and corrupt politicians and who are unable to practice their craft."
"There is critical journalism in Pakistan and a vibrant print media. But, there are important areas that are simply off limits to the press, particularly the rise of Islamic militants, the tribal areas and the influence of al Qaeda. These are vital stories within Pakistan that have national implications. They are vital stories globally. And yet the restrictions on reporting in the tribal areas are very significant. One journalist who reported on the activities of Islamic militants in tribal areas and worked closely with international journalists disappeared in December 2005. He was found murdered in May 2006. The government of Pakistan initially promised an investigation, but nothing has come of that. This unsolved murder has really cast a chill over reporting in the tribal areas, particularly for local journalists. When [Wall Street Journal reporter] Daniel Pearl was killed, there was a flurry of attention and an international outcry. Pressure was put on the Pakistani government. There were arrests. There were trials. There were convictions. Since then, seven other journalists have been killed, Pakistani journalists. Nothing has happened in those cases. It's an appalling double standard, and Pakistani journalists perceive this as well."
"Under Glasnost, journalists had the opportunity to start exposing the contradictions within the Communist system, and that helped fuel opposition. They played a vital role in the back-and-forth that eventually led to the collapse of Communism. In the aftermath, there was an explosion of really aggressive critical journalism. For a while, it was the only functional institution. Then, there was a restructuring in which powerful political and economic players moved into the journalism world and began to lend their support to individual politicians. When President Putin came to power in 2000, he made a decision not to tolerate these competing political forces -- which were essentially media outlets -- and moved against them. But at that point, the public did not perceive this as a press freedom issue per se. They viewed it as a political battle, and with some justification.
Today, the broadcast media in Russia is under the control of the Kremlin. But print media remains fairly open and vibrant, particularly in Moscow. One interesting thing about the Russian press is that it is both repressive and violent. Thirteen journalists have been killed in Russia in contract-style killings since President Putin came to office in 2000. None of those cases has been adequately investigated."
"Freedom of expression and freedom of the press is perhaps the most central point of debate within Turkish society regarding integration into the European Union. What does it mean to be Turkish? Who are we? Questions about the Kurdish situation, questions about the Armenian massacres -- all this goes to the heart of Turkish identity. Turkish society is wrestling with the idea that 'If we want to be integrated into the European Union, we must tolerate criticism.' And there are nationalist groups within Turkey who say, 'If the price for E.U. integration is that we have to tolerate this kind of questioning of our national identity, then we don't want anything to do with the European Union.' That is what's really in play here. This is a very dramatic time for Turkey and for the Turkish press."
"Zimbabwe is a journalistic wasteland. So many elements in Zimbabwean society were vibrant and vital. But it's been decimated because the economy is in shambles. And it has also been destroyed by a government policy that has delivered a series of repressive laws. Violent attacks have gone uninvestigated; dozens of the best journalists in Zimbabwe have gone into exile. Publications have been closed. There is an information void now in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans don't know what's happening. And the rest of the world, frankly, knows precious little about what's happening in Zimbabwe."
"Cuba is one of the world's most repressive places for journalists. Twenty-four journalists are in jail there, second only to China. And with Fidel Castro's health failing, we're looking at an inevitable transition. There is also attention now because the foreign press wants access to Cuba. They want to cover this vital story. And the Cuban government under Raul Castro is sending messages about what the limits on access are going to be. The relationship between the foreign press and the Cuban government will play out over the coming months."
"I see similarities between Venezuela's President Chavez and President Putin in Russia. I call them both "democratators." They are leaders who are genuinely popular in their country -- who were democratically elected -- but who, in many instances, have contempt for the democratic institutions that restrain or limit their power, including the press. President Chavez is fighting to take measures to limit and restrain the power of the press. A critical TV station will not have its license renewed. There's a very contentious relationship between Chavez and the press. You have to recognize that there is freedom of expression in Venezuela. There is plenty of criticism of the president. But over the coming months -- maybe longer -- we're heading for a showdown."
"Mexico is a country, again, where you have competing realities. You have a press in Mexico City that is certainly not perfect but has improved dramatically over the last decade. You have a range of views reflected in the media. You have some critical journalism on television. But then you have another reality on the border -- one in which the state has simply lost its ability to protect journalists who are reporting on the drug trade. Journalists on the border of Mexico reporting on the drug cartels are at the mercy of criminals who are threatening and killing them with impunity. So a story of vital national and international significance is, frankly, impossible for the local journalist to cover."