Sunday, May 3, 2009

Suspending creative thinking for World Press Freedom Day

Lasantha Wickrematunge

On this blog I have been like Diogenes of Sinope in my attack against lame media reporting. There’s a reason. Freedom of the press is one of the basic tenants of liberty. When you have under educated, irresponsible people reporting the news, you put that freedom at risk.


Today we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, a United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) event.


For the past two days the most intelligent, dedicated journalists and scholars have been meeting in Doha, Qatar on the Arabian (or Persian, if you prefer) Gulf.


How many of those lame reporters (Not all reporters are lame. Good ones are celebrated throughout this site) left on traditional media in the U.S. would sacrifice their life for covering a story? As Bruce Springsteen said in a Christmas song, “Not many.”


UNESCO honors Lasantha Wickrematunge, a Sri Lanka journalist who was assassinated in January of this year. “Jury members were moved to an almost unanimous choice by a man who was clearly conscious of the dangers he faced but nevertheless chose to speak out, even beyond his grave,” said Joe Thloloe, President of the jury and Press Ombudsman of the Press Council of South Africa, referring to the laureate’s posthumous editorial in which he voiced his commitment for press freedom at the risk of his life. “Lasantha Wickrematunge continues to inspire journalists around the world,” added Mr. Thloloe.


A UNESCO press release explained, “Mr. Wickrematunge expected to be assassinated and went so far as to write an editorial for publication after his death. It appeared in the Sunday Leader on 11 January 2009, three days after he had been murdered. In his editorial, Mr. Wickrematunge voiced his commitment and readiness to die for press freedom: “[…] there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.”


So as you watch your local traditional media sink to the responsible reporting level of TMZ to secure “lucre,” remember, throughout the world there are dedicated journalists like Lasantha Wickrematunge. That’s why Marketing Sociologists celebrate this day yearly.


Last year I authored an article on World Press Freedom Day for the Arizona Republic.


When your own father hailed from a country that did not have freedom of the press – or the right to be a property owner, you learn to value press freedoms as much as your own health.

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