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Criminalising journalism

What Wolfgang Krach defines as ‘globalised Journalism for a globalised world’ goes beyond our customary definition of journalism. Both the thematic and the reach of journalistic responsibility changes. Equipped with modern technology journalism could help alleviate the very problems through direct involvement. It could unearth global, neoliberal oligarchic structures to help not only a nation or a group within it, but serve the whole of humanity. It could, indeed, confront power, instead of simply speaking ‘truth to power’.
Central to this whole new phenomenon is the role of whistle-blowers. The data retrievers within the structures of power. We are looking at a very different power narrative of a global scale. A global transparency that challenges the very foundations of our modern nation states. But as the Hegelian Dialects made it clear quite early there is no thesis without an antithesis. Populism is the new monster that thrives upon the very emotions of public frenzy. The rise of populism in liberal democracies is the newest threat to global democracy. Nationalism is being fed on a political discourse rooted into emotional economics and demagogic politics. This spread of hatred through the democratic platforms that were considered to be bastions of democracy gives support to high handed laws restricting the freedom of speech, expression, and journalism in countries like Pakistan, Turkey, and Egypt. US president Donald Trump is the torchbearer of this dark trend. His presidency has been best sum up by John Oliver in his season finale. Trump’s has three main techniques of Delegitimising the Media, Whataboutism, and Trolling. Oliver names him as the “first ever troll to be elected”. All this is no fun, indeed! His approach to the media to discredit them gives very dangerous signals not only to the alt-right in the US and Europe, but also sets a dangerous precedent for autocrats and populists around the globe.
The stage is already being set for ‘faith based politics’ through emphasis on tradition rather than the ‘question based spread of democratic values’ through transparency
All this sets an alarming trend for international journalism structures. Instead of seeing ‘journalists of the world united”, as Krach sees it happening, we are seeing the “neoliberals of the world united’. Although the US is not criminalising journalists (not yet, at least), the rest of the oppressors of free speech are joining hands to do so. The prison sentences given to Turkish journalists fall under the criminalisation of journalists.
Populism is spreading like wild fire and right-wing extremism in on the rise, too. World leaders are increasingly resorting to nationalist and religious claims to legitimise their persons and actions. The stage is already being set to “faith based politics” through emphasis on tradition rather than the “question based spread of democratic values” through transparency. Governments got baffled by the empowerment of the common men and women in the process of a global understanding of the rights and wrongs of the world. This is the death of control as we know it. They are trying to deal with it through resurrecting the long demons of national security, identity, and security. This is an alarming trend. But this is at the same time an interesting time to be a journalist. The world is getting exposed, the power centres stretched to their limits, showing their fangs and using their claws in full swing. The resort to legislation in the Western democracies to criminalise information gathering from government sources is running parallel to the idea of freedom of information. The value of governance through transparency that is best safeguarded through the use of data from within the echelons of power.
It also shows how fragile the capitalist’s structure is. One is free to humiliate Tom, Dick, and Harry who have done nothing but some petty crime as compared to the damage governments could do to their own people and to the rest of the world. At the same time criminalising information that really matters, that could change the world and recreate a healthy society on a global scale. This duality is the biggest fake news of all. If we agree to live in a world ruled by fake news and unlawful control by the very lawmakers, the custodians of global freedom and transparency, we are doomed. In the word of the Turkish journalist Yavus Bedar “the criminalisation of journalism (is), sticking an authoritarian knife into the very spine that exists to hold state institutions accountable”. As we know it is not only Trump who is doing this, or the authoritarian regimes in the dark corners of the world, but Western democracies have started thinking on the same lines. If this happens, “I am afraid we should all stand ready to witness the death of our profession”.