“Eric” is being pressured by his editor to drop his story. Ask yourself: Is your publication trying to find the truth and earn trust — or just earn money?
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In the video, “Eric” is being pressured by his editor to drop his story. Censorship is a problem journalists all over the world have faced for a long time, says Charles Lewis, a journalism professor at American University in Washington. Governments, corporations and other powerful interests often put pressure on media either to keep information from becoming public or to promote their own agenda.
“The most disturbing element is it’s not just small publications, it could be some of the most elite, respected publications in a country. There’s no formula for which types of organizations are susceptible to this. It can happen anywhere,” Lewis said.
What’s the harm? For a journalist like “Eric,” it saps morale and professional pride. Journalists could go public with how they are being pressured, but that could risk destroying their careers. “They’ll be ostracized and other publishers will be nervous about them as well, frankly,” Lewis said.
Instead, some choose to self-censor to avoid this type of scenario, and this “has a way of killing your soul or at least damaging it over time.” Lewis said that if you are a principled journalist and find yourself being frequently censored, sometimes the only solution is to leave.
“There are some newsrooms where the culture has been so poisoned that it has basically become a mouthpiece for either a political party or for a political faction or in some cases … an organized crime entity that happens to own the publication,” Lewis said.
Media consumers can help by supporting publications with higher standards of journalistic ethics and which have internal checks and balances that prevent one editor, owner or other individual from having too much power within the organization.
Ask yourself: Is your publication trying to find the truth and earn trust — or just earn money?
Accountability starts with you. Join #YALIUnites at https://yali.state.gov/unites/