This past week, I was in Washington D.C., for a national conference. Not only was I meeting people from all around the U.S. at this conference, but I was also exploring D.C. and submersing myself into new cultures, food and experiences. My favorite experience was by far my trip to the Newseum. As a journalism major, it was mind blowing to see how publications and journalists have impacted our history as well as how they will impact our future.
As I moved from exhibit to exhibit, I came across a huge map. Different countries were colored in green, yellow and red. As I moved closer, I noticed that the green areas practiced free press, the yellow areas had limited free press and the red areas had no free press. I stood there shocked by how many areas did not have free press. Mind blown and speechless, I began to study each area.
As expected, the U.S. was covered in green. Most other parts of the world did not even have any green, let alone an entire country with free press. As I glanced over to Europe, this area was mostly green as well. My eyes continued to shift to the Middle East, which was covered mostly in red. Then, I noticed Israel – a green speck amongst a sea of red. I had no idea Israel had free press, and that this was so rare in the Middle East.
As it turns out, Israel’s Supreme Court fights to keep free speech, another one of America’s five freedoms in the First Amendment. They believe that it is the “lifeline of democracy.” In my opinion, in order to have freedom of press, there must be freedom of speech. How can a journalist publish something if they’re not allowed to say it? Freedom of speech definitely helps Israel to achieve the green marking on this map.
Since Israel is faced with ongoing conflicts, their stories are subject to military sensor. This may not sound 100 percent free to you, which is why Israel is ranked at 29 out o 100 for free press. An area does not turn yellow until it is ranked 30 or lower.
Compared to every other area in the Middle East, Israel has something unique and priceless. They have the ability to write what is true and what they believe. This is a freedom that, as a journalist, I cannot imagine life without. Although it is a struggle for them to keep free press, with all of their surrounding boarders in yellow or red, it’s important that Israel continues to practice freedom of the press.
As stated by Christopher Dodd, “when the public’s right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.”