Before we welcomed the New Year, a malware attack struck major journalism outlets. The attack affected the production and delivery of some of the major newspapers across the country. Affected newspapers included the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union Tribune and even the West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.
Acyberattack crippled these newspapers’ shared production software and led to a domino effect of issues. As of press time, the attack seemed to be for ransom.
Despite what you may feel about journalism, journalists and the media as a whole, you must realize that they are constantly under attack. In other countries, journalists are murdered. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, over 1,300 journalists have been killed since 1992 — over 50 in 2018 alone.
Recently in the United States, employees working at the offices of The Capital located in Annapolis, Maryland were victims of a mass shooting that left five people dead and two people injured. Prior to the attack, the gunman had been sending threats to the paper after it published an article about his probation.
Just last week, KRCR News Channel 7 reporter Meaghan Mackey was reporting on a mass overdose in Chico, California on Jan. 12 when she was verbally and physically assaulted. Mackey was streaming on Facebook Live when she was assaulted by someone off camera — yelling and screaming can be heard before the Live stream ends abruptly.
“I will not live in fear of doing my job,” Mackey said in an official statement on Twitter. “I value the freedom of the press & will continue to report on the truth and inform the public, even during times of tragedy.”
These attacks are attempts to silence freedom of speech and the dissemination of facts. Some very important people around the world have put targets on the backs of every journalist — labeling media the enemy.
Just like people, where there are good and bad people, there are good and bad newspapers. Some like to lump all papers into the bad column, while others disagree where papers should fall. However, no newspaper is perfect — bias is innate and impossible to completely avoid — but good, hardworking journalists are in this to help the public, not hurt them.
Maybe it’s a bit vain, but it’s optimistic to look at these attacks and boil it down to fearful people who are scared of facts. These attempts to silence newspapers are also an attack on the people who rely on these papers for information. News seekers have unlimited options for news in all shapes and sizes, all with their own merits. But, somehow, facts seem to vary.
Nowadays, news seekers often disagree on facts — the term “fake news” gets thrown around often — and that’s their right. However, here’s a fact: journalists are in the business of reporting facts, not making them. It’s the readers’ right to refuse to believe them but that doesn’t give them the right to attack the messenger.
Again, it may be vain, but something must be very important and have vast influence to cause people to want to silence it. The newspapers that use their influence for good will still be vilified by those who don’t like their facts, but news publishing in all its forms must continue. Because who else will dig out and share the facts? Who else will inform the public?