The critical role of the free press

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The free press has always been subjected to vicious criticism from those who would rather operate in the shadows, without the bright light of truth which should always be a fundamental quality in any society that prides itself in the dignity of free speech, with justice and integrity as basic principles. In recent years, scores of dedicated journalists around the world have paid with their lives for doing the job much of the world relies on for uncovering misuse of power, corruption in high places, and human suffering through regimes that exist by crushing any opposition to maintain their stranglehold on power.

Even with amazing accomplishments such as an orbiting space station, with many experiments being conducted around the clock, that hopefully will benefit life on this planet, there are still people dying every day from a lack of food and water, while others perish in the crossfire of rival groups seeking power at any price.

Without brave journalists willing to risk their lives to expose injustice, many terrible acts in various parts of the globe, would never have to undergo the scrutiny of having the bright light of truth to contend with. The world is still a dangerous place when a dictatorial regime such as North Korea, with nuclear power, has no free press and the amount of human suffering continues in the dark shadows of ruthless power.

Even in various democracies around the world, the free press is not always welcomed by those who fall below standards of decency and fair play while in positions of responsibility. The free press will always have a critical role to play, despite oceans of social media in cyber space.

Here in Bermuda with a new Government settling in, after an the election last year that removed the Progressive Labour Party from power after a 14-year reign, the One Bermuda Alliance will need to remain focused on how important it is to allow the free press to perform their duties without hindrance to keep the people informed.

There are early signs that the OBA are embarking on a course to be as transparent as possible, which at times can be a challenge, because accurate information on delicate issues requires careful checking before making press statements.

There are going to be hiccups in the process and this happens with any Government. However the people are watching closely and they usually can sense when something is not quite right.

It is no secret that the election result left many bitterly disappointed PLP supporters, who now need to realise that democracy was the real winner, and what is best for Bermuda is more important than political ambitions.

There is a great deal of work to be done in trying to rebuild our economy, along with trying to recapture a Bermudian spirit that played such a key role in making this island a special place in the Atlantic. The free press has the mammoth task of professionally keeping the public informed of good news, as well as uncovering matters of public importance, irrespective of favour for any particular group.

Our local press may not be perfect, but on a whole they do an excellent job and should be commended. Yes, like everyone even the press can make a mistake. However without the free press many wrongs throughout the world would not see the light of day. Journalists do have the responsibility of getting it right, but this is not possible every time.

Despite the occasional error, the free press remains the best watchdog for all who serve on this Island and that in itself is something to be proud of.

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Published Apr 9, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 8, 2013 at 6:54 pm)

The critical role of the free press

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