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From Behind the Curtain

By Jason Glynn

So how’d you like the new and improved paper? We are aware that the page numbers for the featured stories were not that accurate; we apologize for the mistake, and we will do our best to prevent it from recurring. Anyway, we hope you are enjoying our new look as much as we are.

Do you stand for anything? As Founding Father Alexander Hamilton once said “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything;” well, we at The Beacon firmly stand for the most important freedom of all: the freedom of information. We support freedom of the press – open and unfettered access for journalists all over the world. Everyone and every organization should have a cause to support, something to rally around. The world is a better place when everyone is helping each other.

So without any further ado, it is my great pleasure to announce that The Beacon writing staff has adopted the organization, Reporters Without Borders, as our cause. Reporters Without Borders, also known as Reporters Sans Frontières, is a French-based non-profit and nongovernmental organization (NGO) founded by journalists that fight to combat the constriction of this vital freedom that is the foundation of any true democracy.

Their mission includes “to continuously monitor attacks on freedom of information worldwide; denounce any such attacks in the media; act in cooperation with governments to fight censorship and laws aimed at restricting freedom of information; morally and financially assist persecuted journalists, as well as their families; and to offer material assistance [such as bulletproof vests] to war correspondents in order to enhance their safety.”

They have worldwide coverage – active in over 150 countries with over 150 correspondents – and seek to expose censorship, no matter what form it takes. Reporters Without Borders even have consultant status with the United Nations, which hopefully lends some credence to their credibility. They publish over 1,000 reports on a yearly basis about infringement on the freedom of information. Their two primary spheres of activity are internet censorship and new media.

Even with the NSA spying and the Patriot Act we do a pretty good job at keeping freedom of speech actually free in the United States. This is often not the case around the world.

It is now a weekly occurrence to read about where a country has restricted this access, denied entry or permits to journalists, or journalists have simply disappeared once inside. It is our belief that information is a due right of all citizens. Just the simple thing of sharing information, which we take for granted, can prevent massacres and save many lives.

Information is a powerful thing and can keep dictators in check. One would think that it is hard to hide human right’s abuses, genocide, and other atrocities in this technologically modern age where you can see what your friends are eating for dinner on Facebook, while they are literally still eating it. This is why this is a big deal; this freedom will be our most important freedom for years to come. As long as there are avenues for information, governments will seek to control and censor those speaking out.

However, sadly much information is still stifled. Eretria’s Information Minister gives direct orders to the only media – the state-owned media – over what to report on. China still has its “Great Firewall,” Iran is responsible for mass imprisonments of journalists, heavily censors its internet, and are proposing to use an intranet to control information; Syria is denying nearly any Western reporter entry into the war-torn nation, and some that sneak in can never make it out. North Korea? We won’t even go there.

We believe this is a great cause to champion, and a great message to spread. Our eventual goal is to ally with them, collaborate with them, fundraise for them, and hopefully send one of our writers to them after their time at SMCC. So if you think that this sounds like a great thing and an awesome opportunity to see the world stay tuned! Also stay tuned for the announcement of who our layout team will support.

Lastly, if you want to get your story heard, then contact us. If you are in a club and want to increase awareness, membership, or just want to advertise (which is free to SMCC clubs) then contact us. If you are a political nut and want to help in our upcoming coverage of Maine’s gubernatorial race, then contact us. If you want to learn a little about journalism in general contact us. If you want to learn more about graphic design and layout, then contact us! Please send all inquiries to mbeacon@smccme.edu.

 

Categories: Calendar

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