Outside of US, press is not so free

This should remind us that we are lucky to have a range of views to make informed votes.

by Connor Nikolic

One week ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, what are the primary topics on voters’ minds?

Ebola, immigration reform, the Affordable Care Act and Stewart Mills’ hair, just to name a few. Each of these topics has been covered at length from multiple viewpoints, something that can’t be said for elections in many parts of the world.

Take Turkey, for example. Although it was once a model of democracy in the Middle East, Turkey has reportedly jailed 19 journalists in the past year. About 150 other journalists are currently awaiting trial, and an additional 400 have been victims of forced layoffs.

Recently elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has limited the scope of news coverage available to the Turkish people. In particular, he has censored speech that questions him and the government. Similar restrictions on press freedoms exist in many parts of the world, including Malaysia and China.

In the United States, we have no such restrictions on news coverage. Fox News and Bill O’Reilly criticize President Barack Obama every day, yet you’ll never hear about the pundit’s staff being thrown behind bars.

As Americans, it is our responsibility to use the right of free speech and examine all of the topics in November’s elections from multiple viewpoints — whether it’s from straight news coverage, commentators or another outlet.

It may seem like a chore to read the work of journalists whose opinions dissent from yours, but there are often valuable lessons to be had in examining their viewpoints and broadening your opinions. Many parts of the world don’t have this luxury.