BBC Global News Director Peter Horrocks delivered a sobering speech in Moscow on Friday, warning journalists of the “unprecedented threat” facing independent news.
“Journalists have faced threats to their lives, censorship through intimidation or faced terror charges in their search for alternative voices. These challenges have never been so severe or varied,” Horrock said at the World Media Summit. From the deaths of journalists in Syria — including Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik — to a BBC reporter killed in Afghanistan last year, Horrock called on world authorities to protect journalists working in dangerous regions of the world.
The BBC exec’s speech comes on the heels of a call from the International Press Institute to Mexico’s President-elect Pena Nieto to safeguard journalists covering the country. Seven journalists have been killed in Mexico so far this year. With 12 killed in 2011, Mexico remains the deadliest country in the world for journalists, according to the IPI. And last week, a 22-year-old intern for the Associated Press, Armando Montano, was found dead. Marjorie Miller, the AP’s Latin America editor based in Mexico City, said “there is absolutely no reason to believe” the aspiring journalist’s death was related to his work. Mexico’s attorney general’s office says its preliminary investigation has found that Montano’s clothing got caught in an elevator and an accident caused his death.
In a resolution, the IPI said Mexico’s increasing violence is driving journalists away. “This self-censorship severely restricts the Mexican people’s basic right to information about critical public issues — thereby threatening democracy itself,” the resolution reads.
In addition to physical violence, Horrock said censorship threatens the freedom of information. In the UK, networks like Russia Today and China Central Television — while essentially propaganda arms of the government — are freely available. That freedom should be reciprocated, he said.
“As a global community of broadcasters and journalists, we should strongly condemn these acts of censorship and harassment and urge the abandonment of these restrictive practices. And all countries should open their airwaves to allow citizens to hear the views from other countries,” Horrock added.
Read Horrock’s full speech here.
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com