Bruce C. Swaffield offers a good look at the number of journalists in jail just for being journalists in the latest issue of the Society of Professional Journalists’ magazine Quill: Journalists in jail: Locking up the truth
The numbers are frightening and should be better advertised. The problem is that American coverage of these jailings is non-existent or, when it is reported, no context is given as to why it matters to an American audience.
I am the first to admit that it is difficult to make that connection in a separate story about persecution against journalists. But, is it so difficult when reporting on other human rights issues in countries such as China and Iran to include a line about how these two countries top the list of journalists in jail?
Or maybe mentioning as background how Cuba has more exiled journalists than many other country when doing a story about the changes reportedly taking place in that island country.
These are issues that can be included in any story about are ones that any journalism group should be encouraging their members to include in stories.
But they do not.
And even Swaffield has little expectation that the SPJ would do anything. In the close of his article he encourages his readers to get involved with other organizations:
You and I can help these people. We can get involved with RSF or CPJ. We can even send letters, faxes and emails (not to mention phone calls) to embassies, government officials and the United Nations. Pick a country and make your voice heard. It could mean the difference for one person or for the future of our profession in that nation.