Rarely has a word been used and abused like the word FREEDOM. It pops up across print media, audio-visual, digital, social media advertising text etc. In fact in such a jungle, it has lost its meaning and value. In the meantime, the word has to address another challenge, that of middle ages bureaucracy of the region’s censorship restrictions run by state employees living in a different era and brainwashed by a dogma of long gone by days. Censorship is a plague attempting to function with archaic tools and concepts, leaving the final result in jeopardy and confusion. Where does freedom start and where does it end is an enigma buoyed by the perennial systems of oppression and persecution and the users ignorance of the value and limits of the exercise.
For decades the media has been governed by laws that were enacted for a different generation and a different world, notwithstanding the advent of technology, which has obliterated distances and made the universe one village. The internet has opened all horizons for young and old, for rich and poor and all that’s in between. Our censors in the meantime insist on wearing blinkers and behaving as monitors of our intellect, feelings, hopes and grievances. An insult like no other. All this and the institutions that are entrusted with shielding writers, admen even storytellers are hibernating in the states’ caves. It has become imperative for the media syndicates to reinvent themselves and launch a wake-up call in order to embrace the new state of affairs and act as standard bearers for the dawn of a new order in harmony with change and new mantra. For that to take effect there should start a relentless attempt by the media to force change, not through complaints and objections but with a concerted effort by all to pressure these cavemen to accept that their ways don’t fly anymore. To achieve such results is an uphill struggle under the circumstances, but it’s definitely surmountable and within reach.
The limits are defined for both parties and until this becomes policy the media will continue walking on a tight rope. In any other route, the scars will remain deep and serve as impediment to the advancement that our region is in dire need of. Change doesn’t come easy but the challenge deserves every punch.
A 2010 ad for Reporters without Borders by Publicis Belgium