Today, media is an absolute requirement in everyday lives. Even the lives which are not directly touched by the presence of media, are greatly affected by it. In this paper, I intend to bring to attention the effect of media and the implications and consequences of censorship on the same. I will be heavily referencing to Greene and Robert Hernandez and their discussion on NPL news along with Philip Bennett and Naim Moises and their paper in the Columbia Journalism review. There will be some casual referencing to the case between the home minister and the Mail and Guardian newspaper. I will use these references in order to make my stance clear on censorship which is that I strongly believe that freedom of speech should not be impaled in the name of censorship.
To elucidate, censorship is an archaic way of holding on to the information supply in the society and manipulating it in an institution or individual’s favour. Censorship is a toxic practice in today’s day due to multiple reasons such as Censorship leads to lack of accountability within the ruling class. According to the Africa news network, the supreme court ruled against former housing minister Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele because it believed that censoring a news house will lead to lack of accountability within those who are entrusted with the responsibility of the masses and given the tools for the same. It is not a rare case wherein these tools have been exploited and misused. The misuse of these tools has led the governments to be corrupt and dictatorial. Which is why, accountability is necessary and media provides for the same. Censorship over media is an extremely dangerous measure to be undertaken if we want to live in a free world as everyone is entitled to information.
Media censorship is a concept for the dictatorial mindset because no person or institution would want to monopolize and manipulate information for purposes other than personal agendas. Given the example of the beheading of the American journalist James Foley, Robert Hernandez argues that the censorship is required in order to maintain a certain degree of order in the society as the information present could create havoc rather than stabilize the situation. But Greene rightly points out two very important points. Firstly, censorship violates the first amendment which is the right to freedom of speech and therefore is unconstitutional. And secondly, there would be no unrest in the society if the information is unmanipulated since the very beginning. The only reason information could cause chaos in the society would if they have been fed half-truths and cover ups in the past.
Now coming to the most important reason of all for why censorship is an extremely dangerous path to lead. It is established that too much power in one place is not healthy which is why the world moved on from monarchies to democracies and other kinds of governments. However, censorship provides the same kinds of power to the government that monarchies used to assume. In their paper, ‘the 21st century censorship’, Naim Moses and Philip Bennett have very rightly pointed out that the governments are using advanced tools in order to monitor and supervise what goes around and what the public is viewing. Now this could be a general security measure. However, in recent times we have only come across the instances of governments exploiting such power in order to bring in coups and block the country’s resources while keeping the masses away from information and creating situations of panic and unrest only for personal gains. Therefore, it is right presumed that censorship is not only unnecessary but also unhealthy for the world.
To conclude, censorship is an archaic measure of control that if exercised in the modern world would cause mass power struggles as there will be no proper flow of information and there will be a sense of unrest. Censorship will also pave way for avoiding accountability and thus serving the masses will no longer be the priority. It violates ones basic rights and freedoms. It is only correct that such power be not given to any institution even if it is the government we choose for ourselves.
Bennett, Philip, and Moises Naim. “21st-Century Censorship.” Columbia Journalism Review,
vol. 53, no. 5, 01 Jan. 2015, pp. 22–28, http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=100062759. Accessed 13 Feb. 2017.
“Beheading Video Stirs Debate On Social Media Censorship.” Morning Edition, 26 Aug. 2014,
http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgov&AN=edsgcl.381164762. Accessed 13 Feb. 2017.
“Freedom of Expression: Comfort for the High And Mighty?” Africa News Service, 06 Aug.
2004, http://ezproxy.aud.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,url&db=edsgov&AN=edsgcl.120256659&site=eds-live. Accessed 13 Feb. 2017.