Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"Why Free News Media are Important," by Syed Naqvi

This award winning essay, interested in the regional SPJ First Amendment essay contest was written by Syed Muhammad Naqvi, a senior at Bolivar High School, Grade. This essay was a third place choice of the judges. Here it is:

Li Yuanlong will spend the next two years caged inside a Chinese prison. In July of 2006, the Chinese government charged and convicted this reporter for the Bejie Daily for treasonous acts against the state–in reality, he only mildly criticized the government for, ironically, not providing enough freedoms to its citizens.

While the leaders of the CCP clearly feel differently, one of America’s founding fathers Thomas Jefferson established the republic on the idea that “our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” While America is lauded worldwide as the “land of the free,” China is denounced as a repressive, tyrannical society.

Independent news and media present the population with unadulterated facts and feed the masses with a variety of opinions, even if they differ from those of the mainstream. By censoring all critics of the government’s policies and providing the people with only state-run newspapers and media reports, Chinese politicians hope to retain their iron grip over the country by providing for no room for dissent. Inherently, the Chinese establishment wishes to uproot democracy and subjugate the people into a life of servitude to their will, rather than being humble servants to theirs. In contrast, Americans are happy customers to thousands of news sources that constantly scrutinize and either support or criticize every single one of the government’s actions and policies. Most importantly, this keeps the population informed and educated, so that it may voice dissent or even take action (most often through protest or by electing new leaders) against any policies that do not represent the peoples’ best interests.

People like Li Yuanlong, who analyze and inform the public of the government’s many shortcomings, are not imprisoned as traitors but rather treated as patriots and guardians of the peoples’ will.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of our age, then, is the willingness of the American people to murder this freedom of the press with the weapon of apathy. Record falls in newspaper circulation over the past few years, unfortunately, indicate that while billions around the world dream of and struggle for the liberty to express their views freely and publicly without persecution, Americans are more content to spend their time and money in front of the TV or in the theaters than to educate themselves on the inner workings of their government–in so doing, we risk becoming the only nation to ever willingly surrender the fruits of democracy rather than securing and expanding them.


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