Today's world is extremely small, largely due to the efforts of journalists who are on the spot as news develops. Virtually within minutes of any major news story, reports are before the public.
Yet people throughout the world have become so accustomed to daily outpourings of news that they seldom give thought to the process that makes it available.The demands of modern journalism never end, and, as a report of the Committee to Protect Journalists confirms, the lives of those who gather the news can be put in danger.
Last year, 26 journalists were killed in the course of their duties. Another 600 were victims of "press abuse," the committee reports. These included 59 who were physically assaulted, more than 180 arrested, 11 forced from their own countries, and 59 expelled from the countries where they worked as foreign correspondents.
Many of those killed were targeted precisely because of their role in covering news events. Only six of the 26 were reported to have been accidentally killed covering dangerous events. Eleven were killed in the Philippines victims of opposing ideologies in that country.
Not all countries enjoy freedom of the press. In such countries as Iraq, Bulgaria and Cuba, as well as many African nations, unhealthy restrictions are imposed on journalists. In these countries, abuses of newspeople may go unrecorded.
Typical of the deaths that occurred in 1987 and the evils of suppressing the news is the case of Carlos Grullon, a Dominican Republic television cameraman working in Haiti.
In the tense atmosphere of an election day that followed a campaign marked by violence, many news outlets had pulled back and remained silent for fear of personal harm.
Grullon continued to work with others in his crew. As they attempted to film the bodies of massacred Haitians killed in the election violence, he was shot to death.
The role of the media goes far beyond the mere recording of events. A free people must be an informed people. That's why tyrants often try to muzzle journalists first of all. Those who fall victim in the never-ending struggle for freedom deserve our gratitude and respect.