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BackBeatBehind The Beat: The News Beat Blog

A Discussion About the War on the Freedom of the Press

By March 15, 2018 No Comments

Listen to the full episode of “BackBeat: ENEMY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE” here:

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In this episode of BackBeat, the team discusses the making of our latest podcast episode, “Enemy of the American People,” and talk about ways in which press freedoms are being eroded in the United States.

As you’ll hear, the crew reference former President Obama’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers, the jailing of at least one American journalist, and recent arrests of reporters during mass protests. They also highlight the unsettling news that at least a half-dozen subpoenas have been issued to journalists this year alone.

Among the other topics discussed: the brutal slaying of Swedish freelance journalist Kim Wall, the assassination of prominent investigative reporter, Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in a car bombing in Malta last year, President Trump’s rampant use of “fake news,” and much more.

New York Times building in New York City. Credit: JLeon/CreativeCommons

Why did we feel it was important to dedicate an entire episode to our profession?

The answer is simple, really. Freedom of the press is enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because the Founders believed journalism was the bedrock of democracy. When journalists’ sources are being jailed, or reporters are being threatened with subpoenas, these attacks chip away at the very protections preserved in one of this country’s founding documents—safeguards created For The People. A free and independent press holds the powerful accountable, illuminates the darkness surrounding issues and deeds some would rather remains in the shadows and out of the public’s view, and overall, informs the populace. Without this skeptical watchdog to probe and challenge official accounts, the citizenry is left to digest state propaganda. An unmolested press is perhaps the most important line of defense for the public.

Moreover, these assaults on the press come during a particularly troubling time for newspapers, which are struggling to remain financially solvent.

To learn more on this topic, read our podcast cover story, which features whistleblower John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer, and Barrett Brown, the journalist who was imprisoned by Obama’s Justice Department.

Other sources we mentioned in this BackBeat episode:

Reporters Without Borders

Committee to Protect Journalists

Kim Wall Scholarship Fund

Learn more about Kim Wall:

Kim Wall: What we know about macabre submarine death caseBBC

The Kim Wall Murder Trial Starts in DenmarkThe New Yorker

Want to learn more about attacks on the media?

The Freedom of the Press Foundation created the Press Freedom Tracker to help catalog physical attacks and legal threats to journalists in the United States.


My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on TerrorThe Intercept

‘Fake News,’ Trump’s Obsession, Is Now a Cudgel for StrongmenThe New York Times

Don’t forget how the movement that changed Hollywood started: With great reportingThe Washington Post

Listen to all News Beat episodes here:

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