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Journalism: neglected or protected?

Saadia Dean for Al Jazeera

Our journalists/media workers suffer greatly, but why? Can they be protected? Should we protect them? We have Ghana, Japan, Chile, China, India, Korea, Spain, Egypt, Argentina, Mexico, Australia, the USA and the Philippines on the rising problem.

The resolution included that it:

  1. Urges the member states to provide media entities with free access to information, except in cases where it is necessary to protect personal privacy;

  2. Implores the member states to provide protection for professionals involved in exposing any criminal or unethical activity that has occurred, is ongoing, or will occur in the future;

  3. Recommends that the member states should be able to decide (in conjunction with social media platforms) to remove individuals from media platforms who broadcast content that is incendiary or harmful towards the general public;

  4. Suggests that the member states have no more than 60% of all media operating under state ownership;

  5. Recommends limiting the maximum percentage of any media company that an individual shareholder can own to 40% to reduce exploitative and exclusionary behaviour;

  6. Encourages the member states to increase funding for regional newsgroups, including grassroots and activist media organisations to improve media pluralism;

  7. Calls upon the member states to mandate punishments, which could include removing or limiting the licensing of media professionals who took part in, endorsed, or accessorised corruptive behaviour.

Each clause was discussed in detail, and in the end, the resolution failed.

After these changes, I interviewed some of the delegates of the countries. The USA was completely against the idea of the resolution as a whole because of a change that was not made in Clause 3. Clause 3 states that member states should be able to decide with social media platforms whether to remove certain individuals for their explicit content. They were later then required to do this. The USA believes this inhibits freedom of speech and that they will not stand for the resolution.

I then surveyed leaders of some of the other countries and they were all for the final resolution. All of the county representatives shared a similar thought - we must protect our journalists/media workers. Starting with China, who had previously empathised with Chile, later making the statement, “the fact of member state's opinions on ethical matters, it is necessary that it is based on member states”. Chile, who had proposed this idea said, “although we can’t help those who have died from their status in journalism previously, we can still work to protect those now and in the future”. After further interviewing Japan, Argentina, and Spain, their opinions reflected those of Chile and China: to protect the present and future journalists/media workers.

Protection of journalists/media workers is important to many countries alike, but how much more work will have to go in to ensure the safety of journalists/media workers? How long will it take to achieve this goal?

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