What Free­dom?

ArabAd - - CARTE BLANCHE - by Tony Starr

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

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