Magazine article Editor & Publisher

A Need for Cooperation

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

A Need for Cooperation

Article excerpt

The massive turnout last month of the U.S. newspaper and television fraternity in support of the Committee to Protect Journalists raises a point that long has nagged me.

First, the event at New York's Pierre Hotel: It was a full-throttle outpouring of oldtime journalistic religion; a high mass, in tribute to international press freedoms.

The centerpiece was the richly deserved knighting of Katharine Graham with the Burton Benjamin Award for a "lifetime advancing the cause of press freedom" and the presentation of press freedom awards to five fantastically brave overseas journalists.

CPJ chairman James C. Goodale rang all the change, bringing to the stage to present the awards Tom Brokaw, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Barbara Walters (subbing for Peter Jennings), Dan Rather, Terry Anderson and Walter Cronkite.

Salty Walter, who made the award to Mrs. Graham, couldn't resist throwing a hooker at all front offices. "When we think of protecting journalists, we usually think of protecting them from the harsh treatment of foreign despots and their police," he intoned, "but sometimes journalists need protection from their own publishers....

"There are publishers who harbor a strange concept that because they own the newspaper or broadcast station they have a right to say what should be in or on it.... "It is a conflict that is always waiting to happen on every newspaper or broadcast station. I do not know of a journalist alive - or dead, for that matter - who has not known this conflict from personal experience....

"On those not-too-infrequent occasions when owners put personal interests, including profit, ahead of the public trust they hold, the matter becomes a serious threat to our freedom of press and, thus, our democratic future," he said.

I like to think the significance of nearly 600 industry leaders paying good money to help underwrite the Committee to Protect Journalists is that it represents a growing commitment of the U.S. press to newsmen struggling to spawn an independent press in their emerging democracies.

Now to my point. CPJ is indeed the only organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to defending journalists in trouble over censorship and concerned about their arrests, torture and murder. CPJ is doing a terrific job under the spirited leadership of Goodale and staff director Anne Nelson. …

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