Online Free Expression Day – March 12 – Reporters Without Borders

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Posted by Jim Hedger @ 8:15 am

Today is a day of protest. It’s about truth, freedom and the right to publish without fear of state persecution. It’s an important stand to take, even for those of us who feel protected living in western democracies.

Promoted by the international NGO, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters san frontiéres), Online Free Expression Day is a 24-hour cooperative effort by tens of thousands of members and supporters calling for the immediate release of 63 people imprisoned around the world for their blogging.

The organization has posted an online protest page allowing supporters to choose to focus on one of nine of the “worst Internet enemies”; Burma, China, North Korea, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Tunisia, Turkmenistand and Vietnam. Each of these regimes have jailed or punished reporters and bloggers for their writings on the Internet. There for the grace of geography go you and I.

That sounds overly dramatic doesn’t it… It’s not. Even in the “west”, we continue to have to fight for our rights of recognition as journalists and the right to publish what we believe to be true.

Imagine being jailed for writing about the economy in Egypt or repression in Burma. Imagine having your freedom permanently deleted for simply stating “The Tienanmen Square Massacre Happened”. Imagine living in such fear but being compelled to write your truth anyway.

I am proud and feel honoured to be an Internet journalist/blogger. Readers place a great deal of trust in my writing and I, in turn, owe those readers a commitment to pursuing the truth behind the tech, regardless of personal cost. Readers give writers their attention and writers give readers the most honest opinion they can. That’s how it works. Living where I do, I feel very safe and protected, even when taking on entities the size of Google or Microsoft. Thank goodness I am not compelled to write about politics very often. While grateful to live under the mantle of Canada’s freedoms, I am often fearful for the fragility of them. Check out this story running today in WebProNews if you wonder why I worry; “Journalist To Be Fined Up To $5,000 Per Day

I urge everyone reading this to take part in Online Free Expression Day. This is our world. In the hopes of learning more about it, we rely on Internet journalists. As I said earlier, this is important. Nobody else is going to protect online journalists except we the people. That’s us. You, me, everyone…

Thanks for your attention. Now, back to searching for some semblance of the truth.

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