Press Freedom and Democracy, in societies where State Power can go all out without restraints, turn to become juggernauts. Indexes can be used in making methods work. But if societies, bearing those systems don’t have scopes and structures to materialize them, things will look blurred, abstract, and virtual. In it, the bearers of press freedom would be at the mercies of pseudos of systems and structures.
New upheavals call for fresh ideas. Fresh crisis calls for fresh thinking. And it doesn’t take much to lose focus or get out-maneuvered. Politics is like a chameleon; it appears in the colors of different societies. It is also like a jungle; you only have to be ready to kill before you can survive. Hence, the illusionary of politics and its hunting spree makes it appealing to those who are ready to lose both conscience and identity. For that matter, let’s not keep deceiving ourselves as if politics is a vessel of honor ready to meet God at the altar. Let’s not be swayed as if politics would be the answer to all questions.
There is no such thing as peace or freedom. There is no absence of chaos in the presence of politics. Is either peace will be present for politics to be absent, or politics will be present for peace to be absent. The latter condition brings order, while the former condition ensures freedom. Order and Freedom cannot coexist. One has to be present in the absence of the other. And both cannot manifest at the same time, they can only compete. Hence, the notion that freedom can be achieved while there is order is the ultimate tool for political power.
In our time, the same notion has been tasked to the concepts of democracy, expected to be executed by the press because it is perceived that there would be press freedom. But Democracy, Press Freedom, and Political power as systems and processes of government, are the enemies of freedom and peace.
When there is too much freedom for the press (journalism in its true sense), there would be no government. That is to say, there will be no partisan politics, hence, no politicians. Because government only survives with lies. And the politicians who embody the government, always use propaganda in the form of lying and persuasion. Therefore, Premises of truth or facts cannot be deduced here.
In history, the sole task of the journalist or the press has been the unraveling of governments’ lies. Their tasks were to expose government lies and to filter political propaganda to present the truth. From the beginning of the 20th century, those who have been doing these are tagged dissidents, and they are rarely heard from the mainstream media. The opposite side of journalism or the press, are those who sit behind cameras and microphones to announce all forms of government hoaxes. They are the PRs. And their tasks (as they perceived as journalism) are to follow governments’ press briefings, press statements, initiatives, and speeches, edit and filter to be presented to the public.
In our time, that is our journalism.
So ideally, government in its core mechanism hates journalism. Because they crave, sometimes kill, to exist, and their sole existence depends on lies. That is to say, government never intended to grant press freedom. Real journalism (journalists) stands to be enemies of governments.
The one big lie of most governments is the perception of democracy. And almost every journalist has fallen for it. In Ghana, the journalists who, after seeing the press freedom ranking, have taken it personal, to write insinuations and vicious articles about it will blissfully say Ghana is a democratic country. And it is the same case for American journalists. But the real systems of governments, which are imperialism and constitutional republics, they intend to draw their press freedom from, don’t support press freedom at all. In fact, these systems of governments don’t even want a day for proper journalism. Else they will fall.
But we can make a case for liberal government and illiberal government. (I have substituted democracy for government for clarity’s sake).
A government can choose to be liberal in its state of imperialism and constitutional republic, like the United States, or choose to be illiberal in its imperial state like India. On the other hand, a government can choose to be a pseudo-constitutional republic like Ghana. And all can say they are democratic.
In the case of the United States, what their liberal entity gives them is free speech. And that is not the same as press freedom. The First Amendment put the media directly into the constitution. This means journalists or the press are inside the constitution. That is to say, they are part of the imperial and the constitutional republic government of the United States. Thus, the media establishment is as powerful as the Congressmen or the House of Representatives. Fox News can hold a debate for Republican presidential nominees. A committee in the Senate can use a newspaper publication to probe the individual in question. And in the same way, a president-elect like Donald Trump can shiver and feel nervous about his past scandals, contained in a dossier to leak.
In Africa, the media don’t have such supreme authority over their existence.
On the other side, the US media too is part of the imperial ambitions of the United States government. Their selective and biased reporting on international news, perhaps those that don’t benefit the United States. Currently, we are seeing how the war in Ukraine is being portrayed as against US bombings in Syria and Yemen, Israeli bombings of Palestine, and the deaths of Iraqi women and children from atrocities they once committed. Domestically, you won’t see the US media yelling on human rights for the Solitary Confinement: a government prison that treats humans like animals, as people end up turning into monsters in the prison, while many attempt suicide every day. They keep them in small rooms for 23hrs a day. You won’t also see them talking about how broken their societies have become, addictions, disease-prone, discontentment, and the dying cultures.
They are not allowed to touch or report on classified documents; files containing US crimes abroad; killings, murders, assassinations, disease programs, and scandals. And as of today, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who published US security cables containing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, diplomatic cables of the US plotting to suppress Russia using Ukraine, and the links between the funding of the Clinton Foundation and ISIS by Qatar and Saudi Arabia is still rotting under maximum-security prison in London. He is still in Belmarsh prison (an equivalent of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba), waiting to be extradited to the US to face 175 years prison sentence. His crime was to expose the crimes of the United States.
A journalist in Africa, who never heard of Julian Assange or has never read a single document from Wikileaks, or hasn’t gotten any idea about the core lives of the ordinary Americans will sit here and make hay of the US media.
The emphasis here is that what is called press freedom has become the benchmark of media credibility. Government tolerance is a sole government mechanism, and its realities are shaped by government apparatus and substance. Press freedom, as perceived, is simply government apparatus.
Ghana has a dissimilar case, and it is the same in most African countries. The scope and the limitations of media, free speech, and the disingenuous press freedom are struggles that constitutions have tried solving. As most of the media were born out of colonial quagmires, their course became anticolonial booties. When they realized that their own countrymen have taken neo-colonialism; compromising with Whites to exploit, oppress and enslave their own people, they started looking for a constitutional mandate, to empower the democracy they were given. It has been more than six decades and is only now that they are beginning to realize that it wasn’t democracy. And that the constitutions attached to it, were scams.
But is too late because there is globalization now. At first, what was projected has been accepted and assessments would be judged accordingly.
Journalists can squeeze themselves with rankings. They can propose internal indexes of rankings, or lament its failures. The realities of sham democracy and the pseudo-constitutions would continue to hunt them. They will search for press freedom from politicians internally. And will appeal to the external status quo to judge their course.
Political power doesn’t need scrutiny. Governments don’t need open games. Freedom is a big word. The government doesn’t like it. Politicians hate it. In our time, there are missing elements in our status quo. Journalism is one.