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Iranian-British CNN journalist, Christine Amanpour was awarded the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award at the International Press Freedom Awards Dinner by the Committee to Protect Journalists on November 22. The award is given to individuals whose careers amount to “lifelong work to advance press freedom.” She went on to give a 15-minute-long acceptance speech that honored the Constitutional right to freedom of press and assembly and insisted that journalists fight to keep it intact.
This part of her speech was to me a very powerful message:
I learned a long, long time ago when I was covering the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, never to equate victim and oppressor, never to create a false moral or factual equivalence. Because then, if you do and particularly in situations like that, you are party and accomplice to the most unspeakable crimes and consequences. So I believe in being truthful, not neutral. And I believe we must stop banalizing the truth. We have to be prepared to fight especially hard right now for the truth.
I like when she said she is a believer of being truthful, not neutral, and also when she said we should stop “banalizing the the truth.” I agree. I believe journalists should report on the truth, no matter how awful the reality is because for example, how can reporters cover the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia “objectively” when what was done was obviously wrong? When there was evidence that many had died because of the heinous crimes committed?
Amampour also said journalists are suffering from an “existential crisis”, and a “threat to the very relevance and usefulness of our profession.” This is very alarming. In many non-democratic countries, even some democratic countries, journalists are not protected. And the fact that the president-elect has outwardly attacked journalists for doing their jobs is signalling changing times in the U.S.. A possible era where journalists no longer feel safe, relevant and useful. It also just goes to show how the powerful could misused their power.