Self-Censorship Trickier Than Government Censorship

By Brown, Robert U. | Editor & Publisher, May 18, 1991 | Go to article overview

Self-Censorship Trickier Than Government Censorship


Brown, Robert U., Editor & Publisher


Self-censorship trickier than government censorship

Self-censorship is a much trickier category than plain government censorship because it is much more difficult to recognize, members of the International Press Institute were told at their 40th annual assembly in Kyoto, Japan.

Karel Van Wolferen, a writer from the Netherlands, said it is unrealistic to suppose that self-censorship can be eliminated altogether.

"There are obvious reasons why reporters and editors must censor what they know or think about anything that the owners of their publications consider vital to their interests. These are institutional limitations. Then there are occasions when reporters and editors voluntarily agree with authorities to hold back important information in wartime, or when lives are at stake. There are good moral reasons for certain kinds of self-censorship.

"A more problematical form of self-censorship is caused by the constraints of conformity . . . the fear of going against the grain of social expectations, not in the least those from one's fellow journalists."

He said there is fairly consistent self-censorship to be found in European countries and in the United States. He added that "nowhere else in the industrialized world is self-censorship so systematic and so thorough" as in Japan.

He explained that the uniformity of reporting and commentary in the Japanese press is due to the fact that news from government and business is collected primarily via some 400 reporter clubs that are attached to all the ministries and government agencies, the police, the industrial associations, etc. "To get more than PR information from important organizations without going through these clubs is difficult, and also impossible," he said.

The system is a legacy of wartime censorship methods, he explained. The clubs make collective decisions on what constitutes news and what will be ignored. Such rules can be strict. He said he knew of cases in which brave journalists were suspended from their clubs for writing outside of the rules. Much crucial information never sees print, he said, because of it.

"Japanese self-censorship is more efficient than official censorship could be and it protects those who hold the most power," he added.

"Another famous example is the self-censorship on the subject of Burakumin, a euphemism for the descendents of a former outcast group, physically indistinguishable from other Japanese, but still discriminated against. Editors and publishers have long learned that any mention of the subject may get them into deep trouble," he said. They automatically deleted passages referring to Burakumin from articles and books and some foreign books have never appeared in Japanese editions for that reason.

Mark Kadastik, editor of Postimees in Estonia, reported that press censorship was abolished there three years ago and two years ago the Communists Party lost its grip on the press. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Self-Censorship Trickier Than Government Censorship
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.