Journalism is Not a Crime

Published: May 3, 2023

By Jim Lichtman
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The Wall Street Journal

The importance of journalism cannot be overstated. Vital to any democracy, it’s as essential to America as the Constitution.

Journalism teaches us about the issues necessary to become good citizens. It confronts falsehoods with facts. It shines an important light on lies, fraud, hypocrisy, misinformation as well as illegality—anything and everything that threatens the public interest. Ultimately, journalism acts as a conscience by challenging us to live up to our values and principles.

American journalist, Austin Bennett Tice won the George Polk Award for war reporting in Syria, Tice informed the world with more than 2,000 followers on his Twitter account. His tweets stopped after August 11, 2012. Tice has been held captive in Syria since that time.

Evan Gershkovich, an American journalist for The Wall Street Journal, was detained by Russian intelligence agents while reporting in Central Russia.

“Evan is a member of the free press, The Journal said in a statement, “who right up until he was arrested was engaged in news-gathering. Any suggestions otherwise are false.”

And many other journalists around the world have faced similar treatment and death in pursuit of reporting the truth to the world.

While the mood at this year’s White House Correspondents’ dinner was typically light, President Biden, standing before a large gathering of journalists, began his remarks about journalism.

“The free press is a pillar — may be the pillar — of a free society, not the enemy,” Biden stated.

“Thomas Jefferson wrote, ‘Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate…to prefer the latter.’”

“I am not losing hope,” Gershkovich wrote in a letter to his family from prison.

“To the entire family,” Biden said, looking around the room. “Everyone in this hall stands with you. We’re working every day to secure his release, looking at opportunities and tools to bring him home. We keep the faith.

“We also keep faith for Austin Tice. His mom Debra is here tonight. She knows from our several conversations—the conversations with me and my senior staff—we are not giving up.

“As I told you at this dinner last year, as I told you in the Oval Office, you’ve raised an incredible son.

“As a consequence of Austin showing the world the cost of war, he’s been detained in Syria for nearly 11 years.

“It’s simply wrong.  It’s outrageous.  And we are not ceasing our effort to get him, find him, and bring him home.

“Evan and Austin should be released immediately, along with every other American held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad.

“Tonight, our message is this,” Biden declared, “Journalism is not a crime.”

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