A world starving for truth

  • Gone without a trace: Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared during a visit to his country’s consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago (File photograph by Hasan Jamali/AP)

    Gone without a trace: Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared during a visit to his country’s consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago (File photograph by Hasan Jamali/AP)

The world has never been without grave danger for any messenger daring to tell the truth. Perhaps the ugly truth is that corruption exists whether it is in democratic or dictatorial jurisdictions, creating conditions where people are usually kept in the dark to protect the images of those in power.

Journalists risk their lives on a daily basis attempting to break through complex political smokescreens to seek truth. Often they are fed information based on what authorities want people to believe, while truth is kept in the shadows. This is a challenge for journalists across the globe, and also for people who strongly believe in truth, freedom and decency.

There are administrations throughout the world that thrive on hiding truth, and at times some will resort to actually killing the messenger. Although such activity is prominent in dictatorial regimes, in today’s climate journalists operating in democratic arenas are also at risk of being targeted simply for doing their jobs, which is to reveal truth — pleasant or unpleasant.

According to reports, more than 60 journalists have paid with their lives in various troublespots this year for refusing to look the other way when authorities cross the line in being transparent over matters affecting the people.

It is truly dangerous work, even in countries where virtues of democracy are held high, with no one seen as above the law. That, of course, is an issue, especially when a leader behaves in a manner that raises questions about the true meaning of everyone being subjected to the law of the land, irrespective of economic or political status.

Truth should always be seen as more important than any leader’s image, or even that of a country. That is perhaps why, despite the great risk of personal safety, some of the world’s best journalists persist in pressing ahead in keeping their professional ethics out front in getting at the bottom of any story.

Often in the political arena, as is the case in America, the free press is labelled by Donald Trump as the enemy of the people. That statement alone should have made every American tremble, knowing that the free press are always the first targets of any leader with dictatorial tendencies. Not the attitude one would expect from a country claiming to operate with respect for constitutional law.

When there is an international incident with high economic stakes involving powerful nations, it can be an extremely challenging time for journalists, who often have to shuffle through conflicting statements while trying to get at the truth. The stakes could not be higher with Saudi Arabia and much of the world, including the US, over the recent incident in Turkey, where Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain marriage papers.

What happened after he was seen entering the building by security camera footage has been the focus of the media and officials around the world. Two things that were known when the incident hit the headlines globally: one, was that Khashoggi did enter the building, and two, he was never seen leaving,

As speculation mounted as to what happened to this writer, who also worked for The Washington Post, news reports began circulating that Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit squad. It was no secret that the journalist had been critical of the Saudi Government, and had openly expressed fear about returning to his homeland.

News agencies were digging as hard as they could for any information that would shed some light on this mystery as to why this man should vanish from the face of the earth without a trace. Reporters knew they were dealing with a story where getting at the truth when powerful nations were connected would be far from easy, especially when the Saudi Government denied any involvement.

Then reports emerged that Turkish officials were claiming to be in possession of audio and video of the alleged killing by a death squad acting with Saudi Government approval. This prompted Trump to state if proved true, Saudi Arabia would face severe consequences.

That comment created confusion because earlier Trump indicated that he was not prepared to abandon a weapons deal with the Saudi Government worth billions. Some observers felt America was prepared to abandon morals for economic gain. Meanwhile, if there was an electronic recording of what occurred in the consulate, until that information is turned over to investigating officials, there will be no end to diplomatic rumblings over what took place.

The media will need to keep a sharp eye on any development that could open the gate towards truth, which will be the only way to clear the air over an incident that has the appearance of a journalist being silenced for daring to be critical of the Saudi Government.

What really matters here is truth and nothing but the truth. That is truly what most people around the world want.

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Published Oct 16, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 16, 2018 at 7:28 am)

A world starving for truth

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