Media Censorship during `the Troubles'
Moloney, Ed, Nieman Reports
A leading Irish journalist ponders the consequences.
Imagine, if you can, the following scenario happening in the United States. After more than a decade of censorship of radio and television coverage of a near-race war on the eastern seaboard, the union representing reporters in the electronic media finally summons the courage to challenge the federal government in the Supreme Court.
Instead of journalists celebrating this bid to restore freedom of speech, the reporter who doubles as the senior union official in CBS resigns in protest and angrily condemns his union leadership. No one in CBS or any other station raises a voice against him and, he becomes one of CBS's top stars.
The rules say that the court case has to be taken in the name of an individual journalist, but despite an extensive trawling operation in the mainstream media the union is unable to find anyone to volunteer. Top-flight reporters in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles are approached but each one says no. They are too frightened to take a stand. Finally someone agrees to put his name to the case, but this person is not a superstar with a face known to tens of millions. An unknown reporter for an obscure Spanish-speaking radio station in New Mexico carries the flag of press rights into battle instead.
In a country with as strong a First Amendment tradition as the United States, most …
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Publication information: Article title: Media Censorship during `the Troubles'. Contributors: Moloney, Ed - Author. Magazine title: Nieman Reports. Volume: 54. Issue: 2 Publication date: Summer 2000. Page number: 86. © 1999 Harvard University, Nieman Foundation. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.
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