Thursday, June 29, 2006

Press Freedom and National Security

Freedom of the press should have moral limits. As journalists should not abuse such freedom for defamation, they should also be careful when reporting about sensitive matters which is not a threat to the nation but whose publication is so indeed. State secrets should be secrets as they can be exploited by enemies. A journalist’s work is primarily to inform and not to spy.

There are news media seek scandalous news just to increase its commercial benefits. TV channels do so to have more appeal for advertisers, newspapers and magazines do so to increase their circulations.
We mustn’t forget the cases in which scandals were reported, past and present, like Watergate or the treatment of prisoners in Abu Gharib prison. These had positive outcome; in that they drew attention to some excesses.

But the case of disclosing the secret programme to track the financing of terrorist organisations, New York Times could have used some financial scandals for its front page. Thus leaving the Bush Administration accomplish its task to fight terrorism. Disclosing secret matters of paramount importance to national security is like disclosing the details of a future military operation to the enemy.

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