Journalists Targeted in Political Controversy

Diing Chan Awuol, journalist for the Sudan Tribune, was shot dead in South Sudan on early January, this year. His relatives claimed he was killed for “calling for improvement in relations with former enemies in Khartoum[,Sudan].” Although Awuol demonstrated loyalty by protecting the governed and the rights of his fellow citizens, his life was put at risk for distributing any potentially lethal information he found. Awuol, like many other U.S journalists., received few death threats due to his profession. If Awuol had retired from his reporting career earlier, would he still be alive today? What laws have the United States made to protect it’s journalists and the first amendment?

In 2009, the Obama administration opposed “legislation that could protect reporters from being imprisoned if they refuse to disclose confidential sources who leak material about national security,” What this means for Journalists is that we are forced to report any new information that we find, especially if the information threatens national security and most likely themselves. Refusing to comply with the government in order to protect their source places that journalist into his or her own jail cell. With this corrupt logic, Journalists are  punished from all sides, with nothing but the truth to shield themselves with. Journalists are being treated as “snitches” rather than the 4th estate of government (the branch which broadly represents the power of the governed citizens).

Back in 2005, Judith Miller, a journalist for the New York Times was sentenced to jail because she refused to disclose one of her confidential sources. Her refusal to speak out was viewed as “civil disobedience”, and her only other option was to reveal her confidential source to the grand jury of the Supreme court. “Ms. Miller’s actions are faithful to the Constitution. She is defending the right of Americans to get vital information from news organizations that need not fear government retaliation.” Today, Journalists from all around the world are struggling to protect both themselves and the sanctity of the press. As college student with a Public Affairs Journalism major, I fear that my job may one day put my life and my family at risk; and that the government will do very little to protect me. How do you think the United States should handle this problem to prevent any more freedom fighters from being killed or imprisoned? Is it the government belief that journalists are expendable because they choose to share loyalty with the United people? Do I have to die or go to jail in order to become a great journalist?


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