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Late Night: ‘I would have no qualms about seeing such sentences executed’

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See, it’s just a funny joke, killing journalists who don’t write what you want to read: 

It is improbable that the framers of the Constitution anticipated a situation in which the press were entirely given over to seditious, anti-American policies. If they had, it is likely that their modus operandi would be similar to that for any faction found guilty of high crimes. Trials for treason and the requisite sentences would apply, and I would have no qualms about seeing such sentences executed, no matter how severe.

Except when it’s not: 

CPJ research shows that this year alone, five journalists have been targeted and killed for their work in Pakistan–three of them in Baluchistan. More than a dozen journalists have been killed in the province since 2008. Local groups tend to put the numbers of journalists killed higher, but because of the political turmoil it is often impossible to discern the reason for an attack as many journalists straddle the line between political activism and reporting.

Just last month, Baloch, also a longtime local correspondent for ARY Television, was shot by unidentified assailants. Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist, wrote after Haq’s death that the journalist had been threatened by the state-sponsored Baloch Musalah Diffa Army in November 2011 and had subsequently been named on a hit list issued by its spokesman.

I’ve watched with disgust as journalists laugh off verbal attacks on their trade from wingnut critics who can’t handle facts, as if violent rhetoric never leads to violent acts. I’ve watched as news bosses cozied up to people who denigrated their employees and devalued their work. And every time some angry right-wing crowd turns on a reporter, or a crew member, or an editor, I wonder when it will finally get to be too much, the “lamestream media” and the “rope, tree, journalist” and the dark muttering about treason.

I know I talk a lot about what we do wrong, in the news business. I talk a lot about all the awful things that are done (and not done) but never for one minute do I think good journalism is unimportant or passé or no longer necessary. Why rage against the dying of the light if you hate the sun? Why bother criticizing something unless you want to make it better? I despair at the failures of our national press corps in no small part because i know how critical its function was once and could be again.

And I know about other places, where “jokes” about executing reporters aren’t funny, they’re THURSDAY, and the men and women who get up every day and go out and try to tell the world what the hell is going on around them despite the very real possibility they might end up dead for it deserve better.


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Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel is a 10-year veteran of the newspaper business. She publishes First Draft, a writing and politics blog, with her partners Holden, Jude and Scout. She is the author of the books Chicago's Historic Irish Pubs (2011, Arcadia Publishing, with Mike Danahey) and It Doesn’t End With Us: The Story of the Daily Cardinal, about a great liberal journalism institution (2007, Heritage Books). She also edited the anthology “Special Plans: The Blogs on Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence That Led to War” (2005, William, James & Co.) Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Daily Southtown, Sirens Magazine, and Alternet. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two ferrets, and approximately 60 tons of books.