Selective Outrage for Journalist Arrests

I feel for the Current TV journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, that are being held in North Korea right now for illegally entering the country. They’ve been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor, and they must be scared to death. But journalists get arrested and convicted all over the world, and right here in the US – all the time.

Reporter Diane Bukowski was just fined $4,000 and sentenced to 200 hours of community service for doing her job in Detroit. Photojournalist Mike Anzaldi was arrested twice – and put in jail – for doing his job in Chicago. Democracy Now! host Amy Goldman was arrested at the Democratic National Convention in Minneapolis. The list goes on.

So why does this story provoke such outrage? A big part of it I’m sure is because one of the journalists is the sister of TV personality Lisa Ling. But the other side of it is that we like to act high and mighty and righteous, as if our country is so much more evolved that we’d never trample on the rights of a member of the press. It also doesn’t hurt that the offending country is much-hated, nuke-loving North Korea, one-third of the famed axis of evil. Implicitly we’re saying “What barbarians, those North Koreans!”, but the fact that most mainstream media outlets don’t cover these domestic incidents says a lot about us too.

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2 Responses to “Selective Outrage for Journalist Arrests”


  1. 1 Byron June 12, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I think you make an excellent point here. Well said.

  2. 2 Alex Wichman June 15, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Not to steal your thunder or anything, but there are reporters and photojournalists who are literally being shot and killed in the streets of Iran right now…the whole world is pretty much effed up.


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