Al Jazeera has an interesting article with the title Journalism is not a crime.
In this case, they are talking about the detention of their journalist Mahmoud Hussein in Egypt, and though I do not believe his journalism is a crime, the headline posed a very interesting dilemma.
Is journalism ever a crime?
Often, it is.
We have had hate speech disguised as journalism with racist, sexist, and homophobic assumptions presented as news.
It has caused deaths of innocents, and many reporters should have been dragged to The Hague for war crimes, such as creating and disseminating propaganda that prolonged conflicts as it incited people with false stories of barbarity.
It propped grifters into titans of industry. People got jobs with companies they thought were safe because journalists told them they were, such as in the cases of Enron.
Innocent people were wrongly convicted.
We had people, such as the late Richard Jewell be seen as terrorists based on a press deciding he was guilty without a shred of proof.
Lives have been ruined. People have been harmed.
It is not as if journalists didn’t help others. Many did, in a different time and place, and it was thanks to exposing those toxic collectives and individuals, that much of society was helped.
But there were always the others: the ones who openly lied, or ran with propaganda in their stories, that often nullified the good others in the profession once did.
Journalism should have stopped those toxic elements from corrupting the product. Journalism was once a noble profession that changed lives and exposed the corrupt.
But it never took on those who undid all those games with their own devious or credulous actions.
When journalism turns into a weapon, it becomes a crime. Al Jazeera may wish to look at the entire profession to ensure the Mahmoud Husseins don’t end up suffering because of the ones who think of nothing of spreading lies and rumours in their quest for power, glory, and control.