May 20 • 10:51 AM

Freedom gives press its power

January 30, 2008
Thursday rolls around and I debate whether to jot down 'column' on my to do list.

What's there to say? Expound on the doldrums of winter or rehash old New Year's resolutions? Talk about the presidential race or college football—topics that permeate so much of our office banter? Who cares...

Then, on the way to work last week, I'm listening to an NPR report about another journalist sentenced to die for doing his job. The next day, the latest mayoral saga from Detroit emerges and although the circumstances are unfortunate for residents, I'm more than curious as to how the reporters managed to uncover the messy truth.

It was then that I was reminded, for about the 100th time, how grateful I am to live in a country where freedom of the press is equated to freedom of religion. It's hard to not be in awe of the power the profession can possess.

How can I not take advantage of this space to write, even about the inconsequential things in life, when a 23 year-old Afghani is hoping for a stay on his execution? His crime was simply distributing a news report written by his brother, which allegedly blasphemed Islam, particularly what the Koran says about women. According to Reporters Without Borders, the prosecutor in the case has threatened to imprison any journalists sympathizers. Scan a list of the world's worst offenders on the press freedom index and I, as a woman, wouldn't even be able to voice an opinion, written or otherwise, in a vast majority of those countries.

Closer to home, some observers of the 'sex and text' scandal think the media went too far. Who cares if the mayor had an affair? Do we have to hear about all the steamy details, read all the text messages? Isn't it meanhearted to bring up a personal issue that obviously hurt his family?

At times, it seems like elected officials are constantly in the media's crosshairs, but the Free Press' investigation proves why it's necessary. There were just too many unanswered questions and a $9 million settlement.

Beyond the money, there's also the principal that two peopled lied under oath. Common? Maybe, but if we're to rely on our justice system to hand down fair decisions, we need to press for truth.

Truth—sometimes it's hard to define and I know I've been blasted for what I perceive it to be—but, thankfully we have the chance to debate it and slice it and dice it to death, without facing death ourselves.

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