Push for journalistic freedom in unexpected ways

Delegates debating and voting on journalistic freedom in SOCHUM



Following tonight’s SOCHUM press conference, some developing countries are pushing multiple working papers in hopes of addressing journalistic freedom and national security from a new, friendlier, and cooperative point of view.


The committee is discussing journalistic freedom, an incredibly relevant and important issue in light of recent events involving whistleblower Edward Snowden and government responses to Snowden’s leaks.


Problems, of course, also occur in developing countries where journalists are facing distinctively different challenges from to those in the West. It is those specific challenges that developing nations are hoping to tackle with their insight and knowledge in SOCHUM.


During the press conference, The Guardian asked the UK delegate to explain how they plan to regain the confidence of the press and make sure national governments and spy agencies, such as GCHQ, will change their legislation in order to continue respecting journalistic freedom.


The UK at the time responded by saying that they will continue respecting journalistic freedom as long as it does not infringe on national security – a standard and well-rehearsed answer that makes any supporter of journalistic freedom worry about the coming future in the post-Edward Snowden era.


Meanwhile, on the completely opposite side of the debate, developing nations such as Côte d’Ivoire are hoping for a “partnership” between national security agents and journalists in places safety information is highly dependent on independent journalistic reporting.


“We need the two to work together because we need to be able to inform our populations what’s going on in the country: what is safe and what is not safe. It is the local journalists that have access to a country-wide radio network,” says the delegate from Western Africa.


“Currently, journalism is our national security, and it’s our human security.”


While such an approach is an unexpected but refreshing take on the issue, whether the concept would work in developed countries is questionable.


“Even in developed nations, people need to be informed about what’s going on.”


Indeed, during the Boston bombing or Ottawa shooting, the public – and even police – were heavily reliant on journalistic information gathering on social media, but whether two irreconcilable sides can work together in the near future will depend on what direction Western governments take on concerning spying and intelligence gathering.


(Disclosure: The interviewed delegate and reporter are members of the same delegation)

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