TONY Hall, Director General of the BBC, spoke of the sinister threats facing media organisations worldwide.
Delivering the inaugural Satchwell Lecture on Monday, he said: “In country after country, repression of the media seems to have become a new norm. The persecution and imprisonment of journalists for simply doing their job is all too common place.”
Lord Hall drew on several depressing examples: 150 Turkish journalists languishing in jail, with more than 9,000 having lost their jobs, simply for having done critical or unwelcome investigative reporting; the detention of Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt; the imprisonment of two Reuters correspondents in Myanmar for attempting to investigate the massacre of the Rohingya people; and harassment of 100 BBC staff in the Persian service – and their families back home – by the Iranian authorities.
“And, of course, the consequences for some journalists can be even worse,” he said. “We now have war correspondents, the bravest of the brave, being deliberately targeted by regular armies, never mind those who oppose them. That’s what seems to have happened to Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times – targeted for being a journalist who told uncomfortably truths about the reality of war.
Lord Hall also listed the recent deaths of other journalists in the line of duty. The BBC’s Ahmad Shah, 29, shot dead in Afghanistan simply for being a BBC journalist; the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist working for the Washington Post, believed to have been murdered for his views; and the killing of Bulgarian investigative reporter, Viktoria Marinova.