Editorial: Journalism at Risk | TBR News Media

“Propaganda begins when dialogue ends.” — Jacques Ellul

Democracy cannot flourish without a well-informed and enlightened public.

Several miles from Long Island, against the backdrop of a momentous war in Ukraine, there is another war for the public conscience of people around the world. It is a war against a free and independent press, against openness and transparency with the public, and against the truth itself. In times of greatest turmoil, those who fear the truth the most will do whatever it takes to bury it.

In a class last week at Stony Brook University, eminent Professor Leonie Huddy of the Department of Political Science said: “We are also in a propaganda war.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is a non-profit organization that promotes independent journalism and defends press freedom around the world. According to CPJ’s website, five journalists have already been killed since the Russian invasion began on February 24. With abhorrent regularity, journalists are now being targeted and killed.

Aware of the risks, Louise Callaghan, Middle East correspondent for the Sunday Times of London and virtual panelist at the SBU seminar, told the audience that she would return to the war zone to report on the situation in Ukraine from the ground.

From the bomb shelters of devastated Mariupol to the north shore of Long Island, journalists have an incredible responsibility. The Founding Fathers enshrined freedom of the press in the First Amendment to the Constitution because they understood that journalism was a necessary deterrent to unchecked power. Journalists shine a light on those who hide behind the shadow of deception, whose greatest weapons are misinformation and fear, because even their nuclear weapons cannot overthrow what is true.

Right now, dictators and their propagandists are waging a war of ideas, seeking the total annihilation of reason and free thought. Journalists, like Callaghan, are our last lines of defence. Whether you are a local journalist on Long Island or a foreign correspondent in Ukraine, the principle remains. As long as journalists are there to shed light on the powerful and the wicked, to distill factual and unfiltered information to the public, the autocrats and their propagandists will never prevail.

This staff editorial is dedicated to journalists who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of transparency and truth.