100 articles – ‘2009 Was a Terrible Year for Free Speech Online’

24 May 2010

Written by: Lawrie Zion

‘2009 Was a Terrible Year for Free Speech Online’ by Clothilde Le Coz

The biggest concern for journalists in some countries is how to stay out of prison and avoid being assassinated. It is way after this that they worry about newspapers closing down, bloggers becoming journalists or crowdsourcing.

This article, published in MediaShift in early 2010, looks at some of the alarming threats to free speech and media freedom experienced throughout 2009. Bloggers being thrown in jail, journalists getting killed and activists living in exile. Not even the most sophisticated technology has been able to counter these threats on freedom of expression. For all the differences between old and new media, both can facilitate suppression.

The digital age has proved no safeguard for the freedom of speech. In fact computers leave more traces than ever about journalists, making it easier for autocratic governments to track them down.

The internet is not the most democratic place on earth anymore. There are enough firewalls and police keeping track of every move online journalists make. Although developing countries are often labelled as the worst perpetrators of suppression, even developed nations are considering internet policing in the coming years. I believe that every journalist must understand today’s state of media freedom. Because journalists will always have to fight for their freedom. Going digital has not made it any easier.

Shashini Gamage is a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University.

More on the ‘100 articles’ project, including the list so far, can be found here.