Thursday, May 03, 2007

Free Thought: Something to Think About

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May 3 marks a day of thoughtful observation, as writers, readers, thinkers and learners acknowledge the state of accessible, free flow information and the value of exchanging ideas. Passionate interest, investment and deprivation of well-rounded thought are what make this day so powerful. Whether you are a martyr for human rights or simply enjoy turning on the tube to catch the morning traffic report, World Press Freedom Day should be means for reflection.

In the photo above by Denis Sintacov, these brave, passionate, orally-bandaged souls silently protest the control of mass media by an oppressive Russian government. For seven years of rule and unchecked power, Vladimer Putin has ordered censorship of all information circulating from newsrooms to those desperate minds of all who call Russia home. This demonstration in Moscow last June is a silent protest and courageously endearing plea for free, fair thought in a state of disabling ignorance.
*Courtesy of AFP Press

Last year, a total of 110 journalists were murdered and 134 were imprisoned. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the number of freedom writers jailed for their work across the globe increased for the second year in a row, and one in three is a blogger, online editor or web-based reporter. Personally dabbling in all three growing sectors of journalistic jailbirds, let it be said that I am sleeping with one eye open. Not only has the number of imprisoned electronic journalists increased each year since 1997 (the year CPJ recorded the first jailed Internet writer in its census), but last year’s figures mark the highest number of Internet journalists ever tallied.

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In recent months, I have held a heavy burden on my heart and mind for journalist Bob Woodruff. When hit by a roadside bomb, he earned the title as the first American news journalist to be wounded in a war zone. A respected reporter since the early nineties, Bob replaced the beloved and humanly imperfect Peter Jennings before departing for Iraq. From sea to shining sea, Americans of all walks of life welcomed Bob into their homes and entrusted their minds to his kind and handsome delivery of information. When Bob returned, he was not handsome, and he had a slightly different story to tell. This brought inescapable sadness and much-needed reality to the American people. This was arguably his most effective reporting to date.

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Maseman shedding some light on anti-war propaganda

Be thankful for our legal (or legally judged) freedom and ability to relay our messages, thoughts and opinions. We all have something to say, and we are blessed with a means to do so. Spread wisdom, expression and thought. Celebrate and contribute to a greater purpose. In doing so, you will facilitate change for what you believe in. Silence is our greatest disabler.

Happy World Press Freedom Day
May 3, 2007

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