An argument in support of journalists

Faith Arcuri, Staff Reporter

The body of Mexican radio show host Rafael Murúa Manríquez was discovered on January 20, 2019, north of Santa Rosalia, which is in the northern Mexican State of Baja California Sur. The reason he was killed – you ask –  because he was a journalist.

The Baja California Sur state prosecutor’s office released a statement to the press via WhatsApp on January 21, which said that Murúa’s body exhibited several wounds, without specifying what kind of weapon might have inflicted them.

Murúa was the director of Radiokoshana FM and he refused to get involved in reporting about the navy by the government, according to Irina Vázquez, who heads the Mexican chapter of the World Association of Community Broadcasters (AMARC), an international umbrella organization of community radio stations.

The journalist had previously reported that he had received several threats and, since 2017, he was enrolled in a protection program sanctioned by the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which operates under the auspices of the Secretariat of the Interior.

The most recent and last time that anyone had heard from Murúa was on January 19 and a day later a family member reported that he was abducted.

On November 14 Murúa posted on a blog that he had received death threats from the government of Mulegé Mayor Felipe Prado’s security policies.

Mulegé is the exact location that Murúa’s corpse was found, and this is just one example of the current crisis that is happening around the world.

The danger of being a journalist has drastically increased to the point where there has to be a law put in place to protect journalists. The Journalism Protection Act is a law created by California’s Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. This act was put in place to protect all journalists from any bodily harm while they are doing their job.

Swalwell first introduced the act in February of 2018, but it was then re-introduced on Tuesday March 12, 2019 after several physical attacks on journalists made by civilians or the government, and from the multiple verbal attacks made by President Donald Trump.

Trump has made multiple accusations that many articles that are released about him and other political topics are “fake news” and that the press are the “enemy of the people”.

Trump has stated that it is “disgusting that the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”

These officials are aware of the mess that is the safety of journalists and they have finally decided to do something about it.

“A free, unfettered press has always been a hallmark of our democracy. At this extraordinary moment in our history, the press’s role in our democracy is more critical than ever – uncovering and reporting information, exposing wrongdoing, and holding public officials accountable,” Blumenthal said in a release after submitting the bill along with his colleague.

Even though many people support this law, there are also many people that believe that this law is not just unnecessary, but even to the point of obscenity.

Amy Swearo,  writer at the Daily Signal, published by the Heritage Foundation Conservative Organization says,  “It’s… irresponsible to suggest either that America is a dangerous place to be a journalist, or that Trump is responsible for this danger. And it is disrespectful of those journalists who are actually risking life, liberty and property on a daily basis in order to report the news… In 2017, approximately 70 journalists were killed worldwide and another 262 imprisoned with their journalistic work. Not one of those deaths or imprisonments occured in the United States.”

While part of this statement is true, other parts are inaccurate. Photojournalist James Foley is a prime example of this. While Foley was imprisoned and executed in northwestern Syria, he was still an American citizen. Foley was reporting in Syria regarding the Syrian Civil War, but he was abducted on November 22, 2012. Then on August 19, 2014, he was executed, after he told his family members that his murder was his brother’s fault because his brother served in the military.

Although Foley was brutally executed in another country, he was still born and raised in the United States, so even though the law protects journalist in the country, this law seems that it is necessary because of the amount of murders of  journalists overall.

In fact, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in 2018, there were four Americans that were killed, including John McNamara. McNamara was shot by Jarrod Ramos in the Capital Gazette newsroom because Ramos had a long standing grudge against the paper. McNamara never personally did anything to attack Ramos in his writing, but he was murdered because of his profession and the company that he worked for.

The fact of the matter is that there is an massive amount of harm caused to journalists, it should and does not matter if it just in the United States. The fact of the matter is, that journalists are being murdered, it does not matter where.

Journalism is the only real form of free speech that citizens have in this country. If writers are being brutally executed for doing their job and have the basic right to do just that, who will be left to tell the world the truth. By silencing journalists, the only thing that will happen is that citizens across the globe will rise up to stand up for their basic rights to report what is happening in this world.

One example of Trump promoting how journalists are the “enemy of the people” is at a Trump rally where a Trump supporter shoved BBC cameraman Ron Skeans. Washington correspondent Gary O’Donoghue, Skeans’s colleague was there when the incident occured and he reported that the supporter stood on the reporter platform and pushed the camera into Skeans, and then proceeded to push him repeatedly.

There was a video posted of the attack by O’Donoghue on Twitter, and the camera is focused on Trump. The camera begins to shake and bounce around for about 10 seconds and then it shows a man in a red baseball cap swearing and being restrained by another man while he is lunging towards the camera.

O’Donoghue said that the mass of hostile people in the crowd against the media is a “constant feature of these rallies.”

When people like President Trump calls journalists the “enemy of the people” he could not be more incorrect. The enemy of the people are those who are trying to shut down journalists because journalists are the only people that are not afraid to report the truth. There are many important jobs in the world, and journalism is one of those, but unfortunately, one of the most underrated jobs.

Journalists are willing to go out on the front lines and risk there jobs to report the life changing event around the world, so the real question is, what are we going to do help?