THE NEW CENSORSHIP by Joel Simon

THE NEW CENSORSHIP

Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom
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KIRKUS REVIEW

As the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Columbia Journalism Review and Slate contributor Simon (Endangered Mexico: An Environment on the Edge1997) has a worthy agenda, which he advances here in a manner devoid of both sensationalism and much literary flair.

Mainly, the author lets the facts speak for themselves, using the murder of Wall Street Journal South Asia bureau chief Daniel Pearl as a springboard for an examination of how “Pakistan not only was one of the most deadly countries in the world for the media but also had one of the world’s worst records for bringing the murderers of journalists to justice.” Effective journalism requires presence close to the action, and thus closer to danger, and as news organizations have reduced their international staffing, the void has been filled by bloggers, freelancers and activists, lacking whatever resources and protection that institutional backing might have afforded them. The Internet might make it easier for such journalists to get the word out, but cybertechnology also makes them easier to track and monitor and for terrorists to respond with “institutionalized and now ritualized kidnapping, featuring hostage videos to exert political influence and secure ransom.” Though much of the book explores repression in totalitarian regimes, the United States and its supposedly free press doesn’t escape criticism: “For freedom of expression advocates, the U.S. efforts to use the Internet to spy on the world while simultaneously promoting freedom of expression online are contradictory.” As an extended policy paper, the book expands the traditional definition of “journalist” and suggests that awareness of the problem might be the first step toward reducing such censorship, which has often taken such ruthless forms.

Not so much a powerful reading experience as an attempt to influence international policy.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0231160643
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Columbia Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2014




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