Larry Flynt

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The First Casualty

Larry Flynt

There’s been a lot of talk about the death of true journalism. I couldn’t agree more that the trend away from firsthand, on-the-ground reporting is regrettable. But even more alarming is that journalism is now, literally, more deadly than ever. According to multiple sources, including Reporters Without Borders, 2012 was the deadliest year on record for journalists throughout the world. In addition to the at least 88 killed, many more were beaten, intimidated or imprisoned. This year is on track to be just as hazardous for both professional reporters and the growing number of citizen journalists we rely on to fill the information gaps left by mainstream corporate media.

This trend represents the most brutal form of censorship. Reporting should not be a suicide mission. But regimes and individuals with things to hide know that killing the messenger has a powerful, chilling effect. As journalism gets more dangerous, fewer people will be willing to engage in the tough work of accurate investigative reporting.

It’s no accident that the framers of our Constitution included freedom of the press as an integral part of the First Amendment. A country without a free press is no longer free. History has proven that a functioning journalistic sector is vital to a civilized, progressive society. We need to know the whole truth so we can fix what’s broken. Truth is not only the first casualty of war; it’s also the first one of a dying democracy.

As a publisher who has fought in the trenches against censorship, I call on all governments to loudly condemn the growing attacks on journalists and aggressively pursue anyone responsible for trying to silence the free press. This deadly trend must be reversed.

Larry Flynt

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