Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Free Press and The Security State: no, reporters aren't generally spies

Driving to work today, NPR was running coverage of the latest arrests of reporters covering Turkey's fighting with the Kurdish PKK. Seems the Turks are using the "reporters siding with our enemy by writing about them" argument to suppress potentially unfavorable coverage.
During the discussion, the NPR host made note of a recent document released by the Pentagon which says that journalists often take actions similar to spies, and thus can be treated like belligerents in certain circumstances. 
And it's true - journalists write stuff down, take furtive pictures, and sometimes try to hide their identities. But that's where any similarity ends. Spies do this to collect information to be used secretly by one nation to do harm to another. Journalists do it to collect information that will become public so that all people can be informed about why is happening and why in a given place at a given time. One if these is a direct threat to national security - and the other is not unless you fear the truth will embarrass you and show how you have broken your own laws and/or mistreated your own people.

Which is EXACTLY what the Security State fears.

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