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The New CensorshipInside the Global Battle for Media Freedom$
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Joel Simon

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231160643

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231160643.001.0001

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Hostage to the News

Hostage to the News

(p.82) Four Hostage to the News
The New Censorship

Joel Simon

Columbia University Press

This chapter talks about the emergence of the risk of institutionalized and currently ritualized kidnapping. These involve the use hostage videos to exert political pressure and secure ransoms, and if things go awry, result in horrible executions. Journalist kidnappings are not a new phenomenon; up until the Daniel Pearl case, the standard response was to use the power of the media to pressure the perpetrators into releasing their hostage. Nowadays, many cases of journalists' kidnappings are not reported at all—a controversial practice known as a media blackout. This practice is quite disagreeable since media organizations already routinely publish sensitive information for various reasons, but especially because their primary mission is to inform the public. Moving forward, the best course of action would be for media organizations to report such kidnappings in a straightforward manner, omitting, for example, demands of the kidnappers and firmly indicating that they are withholding certain information at the request of the authorities.

Keywords:   hostage videos, journalist kidnappings, Daniel Pearl case, media blackout, public information

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