WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Perilous Times for Journalists

Oct 24, 2018

The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is another example of the dangers journalists sometimes face when working on stories. Khashoggi was a critic of Saudi Arabia's crown prince. Khashoggi fled that country in 2017 and began writing for the Washington Post. He died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018.  The Saudis said Khashoggi's death was an accident, but Turkey's president said he was brutally murdered.

Shop Talk panelist Will Buss said he is troubled by what people are willing to do to stifle the truth and silence a journalist, especially in the Middle East. But he added  it’s not just an issue overseas – he said journalists face attacks in the U.S. too.

Buss wondered whether those who are hostile to journalists are trying to hide something. He said the spotlight should be turned on them.  And he said the murder of Khashoggi put Saudi oppression in the spotlight rather than making the issue disappear from the public eye.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said Khashoggi was a voice for the Arab world and, as a result, his home country wanted to silence him.  Like Buss, she said journalists in the U.S. also face increasing hostility and threats even though they’re simply trying to do good work and inform the public.

Crighton said an informed public is a better public, especially in countries where citizens are asked to make important decisions in elections.

Panelist Rich Egger believes many of those openly hostile to journalists in the U.S. are taking their cues from politicians, notably President Trump.  Egger said that through the years, Shop Talk panelists have emphasized that journalists are not picking sides but rather they’re trying to present information of interest to the audience.

He said if reporters advocate for anything, it’s for freedom of information and transparency in government.

Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.