Freedom of Speech–At What Cost?

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In 1929, American journalist George Seldes published “You Can’t Print That,” an exposé of media censorship and government control over the press. In it, Seldes published a 1918 interview with Paul von Hindenburg, the German field marshal during World War I.

The information Hindenburg revealed during the interview could have seriously changed the course of history: Seldes claimed that Hindenburg’s information ”would have destroyed the main planks of the platform on which Hitler rose to power.”

However, military censors stopped Hindenburg’s information from ever being published, which is something that Seldes fought strongly against during his career as a journalist.

Seldes, who started his own independent publication called In Fact, fought long and hard to expose the many injustices the government condoned through censorship. In addition to exposing the fascism in Europe and United States allies, he took it upon himself to publish scientific articles that revealed the harmful effects of tobacco.

Of course, being that the tobacco industry brought in millions of dollars in revenue, Seldes’ work was seen as a threat. Seldes, as well as anyone else who was involved with In Fact, were soon the target of the government and were put on a list of communists as a way of intimidating the publication into closure.

Fast forward to modern day, this type of media censorship has made its way into the 21st century in various countries all over the world.

In Venezuela, fascist government officials are closely monitoring the country’s media. However, intimidation toward those who choose to stand against censorship is a lot more subtle.

Tamoa Calzadilla, former editor of Ultimas Noticias, Venezuela’s largest circulating newspaper, “resigned in protest after anonymous buyers took control of the paper, and a new editor demanded what she considered to be politically motivated changes in an investigative story about anti-government protests.”

“This is not your classic censorship, where they put a soldier in the door of the newspaper and assault the journalists,” Calzadilla said. “Instead, they buy the newspaper, they sue the reporters and drag them into court, they eavesdrop on your communications and then broadcast them on state television. This is censorship for the 21st century.”

Government control tactics are still very much prevalent to this day, yet the subtlety in which this type of control is carried out is truly daunting. Even today’s mainstream media within the United States harbors a level of political control–the Fox News reporters cater to Republicans and conservatives, reporting in a manner that is meant to steer viewers to think in a certain way, their way.

It is for this reason that independent media outlets around the world are working toward maintaining a world of news that is direct and is able to tell a story–the whole story–to an audience who deserves to know the truth.

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