Global Issues Essay: Media Control and Censorship
Censorship is the suppression of media or public communication deemed disagreeable or even dangerous, by the government or some sort of group in control. Even though the freedom of speech, opinion, information and press are considered individual human rights and are rooted in democratic ideology, media censorship is not uncommon in the world, and has been popular with authoritarian regimes such as the Soviet Union. However, how has censorship changed from the Soviet Union to the modern world? Compared to censorship in the past, modern censorship has become more difficult due to Internet and the media is mostly now controlled by a group of individuals rather than the government.. The countries we will reflect on for our topic are Turkmenistan, China and the United States.
Although most of the world entered into the twenty-first century with more modernized ideologies and technology, some countries, such as Turkmenistan, choose to stay close to traditional government media censorship. From 1985 to 2006, Turkmenistan was ruled in a cult of personality by Saparmurat Niyazov, their president for life, after gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Under his repressive regime, intense censorship on the internet, books and especially on domestic and foreign media, are tightly enforced by the government. Niyazov, who declared himself Türkmenbaşy (or Turkmenbashi, “Father of all the Turkmens”), would personally approve front-page content for all major domestic newspaper. All domestic media would feature prominent pictures of him, whether it be on the front cover of newspaper and magazines, or the logo of Turkmenistan national television. It is not easy for independent non-government organizations to operate their own news station. Funding proposals for independent news sources would have to go through more than five layers of government approval, and most never get past the first. Similar to the Soviet Union, the government has full control of the media, news reports that would usually be broadcasted in other countries, such as on poverty, unemployment, AIDs, crime and prostitution, would be censored out by authorities and banned from being reported on.
Whereas the Turkmenistan government are able to keep their repressive hold inside the country, the internet has made information censorship difficult to control and keep in check. Foreign media coverage from Turkmenistan fairly difficult since the country is isolated from foreign contact and has a record for harassing and jailing reporters. The only internet service provider is state operated, and is constantly monitored by the government. Yet, the United States government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has been has been able to draw negative attention from the government for the past three years. In 2013, a local correspondent for the RFE/RL in Turkmenistan, Rovshen Yazmuhamedov, was arrested without credible charges...