Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 12, 2014

Press Freedom: The collapse globally and in Indian country

The World Press Freedom Index 2014 describes the violence and collapse of media -- but does not include widespread plagiarism and deception in national Indian country news

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

The World Press Freedom Index 2014 details the violence against journalists around the world. It includes the decaying state of press freedom in the United States, where the Obama administration continues to pursue journalists sources for prosecution. 

In the US, the whistleblower is now the enemy targeted by the US government. The United States plunged 13 spots to the ranking of 46 in press freedom, states the report by Reporters without Borders.

The Index documents how reporters continue to be killed and tortured around the world. The Index, however, does not detail the collapse of journalism in Indian country in the US, where plagiarism, armchair journalism and deception dominate the national news in Indian country. 

Reporters and editors in the national Indian country news -- who are never seen present on a news story -- continue to be paid for plagiarism and rewriting others work. 

The deception in the news includes the publication of press releases and spin as if those are facts, which facilitates corporations that target Indian country for mining, power plants and dumping. The promotion of non-Indian profiteers within the casinos is disguised and concealed. The deception includes the promotion of politicians who are actually the publishers.

Further, there is widespread censorship in national Indian country news of issues ranging from the dirty coal industry, uranium mining, genetically modified seeds, and the theft of Indian water rights, to the truth about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The militarization of Indian lands, including Indian lands at the US borders with US spy towers, is widely censored. The truth about how the US created tribal councils to sign energy leases and serve as puppets of the US government, along with the back door deals of politicians, is also censored. The colonization of Indian children and the eradication of culture and traditions, from boarding schools to the US military, is censored.

Favoritism, the narrow selection of issues for publication, and distraction dominate the national Indian news. The theft of photos and copyright violations are part of the continual collapse of the national news in Indian country. Conflicts of interests are also present, as those posing as reporters are secretly paid as pubic relations agents or receive benefits for their articles.

Excerpts from World Press Freedom Index 2014

"In the United States, 9/11 spawned a major conflict between the imperatives of national security and the principles of the constitution’s First Amendment. This amendment enshrines every person’s right to inform and be informed. But the heritage of the 1776 constitution was shaken to its foundations during George W. Bush’s two terms as president by the way journalists were harassed and even imprisoned for refusing to reveal their sources or surrender their files to federal judicial officials.
There has been little improvement in practice under Barack Obama. Rather than pursuing journalists, the emphasis has been on going after their sources, but often using the journalist to identify them. No fewer that eight individuals have been charged under the Espionage Act since Obama became president, compared with three during Bush’s two terms. While 2012 was in part the year of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 2013 will be remember for the National Security Agency computer specialist Edward Snowden, who exposed the mass surveillance methods developed by the US intelligence agencies.
The whistleblower is the enemy. Hence the 35-year jail term imposed on Private Chelsea/Bradley Manning for being the big WikiLeaks source, an extremely long sentence but nonetheless small in comparison with the 105-year sentence requested for freelance journalist Barrett Brown in a hacking case. Amid an all-out hunt for leaks and sources, 2013 will also be the year of the Associated Press scandal, which came to light when the Department of Justice acknowledged that it had seized the news agency’s phone records.
While investigative journalism is under threat in the United States, day-to-day reporting exposes journalists to physical danger in Brazil. With five journalists killed in 2013, Brazil has become the western hemisphere’s deadliest country for media personnel, the position held until then by Mexico, a much more dangerous country ...

In Mexico, the Zetas and other criminal organizations act in a similar predatory manner towards journalists with the complicity of corrupt local, and sometimes federal, officials. No fewer than 88 journalists were killed from 2000 to the end of 2013, and 18 others disappeared during the same period. This appalling death toll was aggravated by the so-called “federal offensive” against the drug cartels under President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), in which more than 60,000 people were killed." Read more

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 32 years, beginning as a reporter for Navajo Times, and a freelance reporter for AP and USA Today during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and terminated. As a result, she created Censored News, now in its 8th year, with no advertising and 3 million pageviews.

1 comment:

Apache warrior said...

The news is always controlled by tribal
governments in the U.S. because they have the funds to print their own paper. There's never any controversy in their news or print opposing view points. Take the des enfranchisement of California Indians being dis enrolled
from the tribal roles because of casino monies. Tribal governments use archaic B.I.A. rules to get rid of supposedly "trouble makers" all in the name of money.
So, some of these tribal governments violate the constitutional rights of Indian people to control their social organization which is antithetical to traditional ways.
Don Decker, Apache, Arizona.