Thursday, October 29, 2009

Courageous Women Journalists

Last night the International Women’s Media Foundation held its annual dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It’s quite a gala, celebrity journalists from TV, Internet and print. Major L.A. philanthropists, j-school students, community leaders and other guests schmoozed re the demise of American media institutions.

The organization honored four women journalists who have courageously reported on oppressive political leaders, political upheaval, abuse of women and other human rights issues in their countries. The reporters from Belarus and Cameroon were arrested for writing unflattering stories about the government. Armed soldiers destroyed their equipment and production studios and dragged them from their homes. The plea from the honorees was unanimous – American media must keep its eye on the globe not just when there’s a coup or assassination of a political leader. The Iranian journalist could not attend the event as she was recently released from jail and waiting for her husband to be released. The Israeli reporter travels in dangerous territory, from Jerusalem to Gaza and the West Bank, decades of reporting both sides -- the Palestinians and the Israelis.

We hear little news about Belarus and Cameroon. The networks, cable stations, newspapers and radio send their correspondents to “hot spots,” where there’s gunfire, suicide bombers and kidnappings. Senior executives at media companies claim budget constraints prevent them from posting reporters in less volatile places. The “bean counters” control the flow of information to Americans and will continue to reduce the coverage of global events. No wonder we’re all turning to the Internet for timely information.

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