Imagine if you woke up tomorrow morning and all 100 newsroom staffers of CNN Atlanta were gone, vanished like the rapture had come early? Pile on the global news network’s 37 bureaus, poof! Gone, never to be seen again.Add Anderson Cooper and all other CNN anchors with special shows. Again disappeared, no one knows where. How might your view of the world be affected? As Joni Mitchell so sweetly, but knowingly sang, “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone!”

And if we’re not careful we’ll be like the citizens who live in such countries as Iran, Turkey, Eritrea Burma or China who know what truth becomes when there isn’t a free and independent media and journalists keep getting jailed. These countries are the top offenders around the world, noted in the annual 2011 Prison Census, an accounting of all the journalist jailed throughout the world from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

According to the CPJ’s 2011 analysis 179 journalists have been jailed in the last year, what they say is a 15-year high.
The worst offenders are:

  • Iran – 42 journalists jailed
  • Eritrea – 28 journalists jailed
  • China – 27 journalists jailed
  • Burma – 12 journalists jailed

According to the study these journalists are often arrested but never charged, are taken to “secret prisons,” and are treated more as enemies to the totalitarian regimes than as professionals honing their craft.

They include journalists such as:Ne Min (aka Win Shwe) a freelance reporter for BBC who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for spreading false news and rumors to the BBC to fan further disturbances in the country” and “possession of documents including anti-government literature, which he planned to send to the BBC…

Nedim Sener – a Turkish columnist for the Turkish daily Posta, was imprisoned in March 2011 on charges he was aiding an anti-government group. But according to CPJ Şener, who wrote two book son the murder of fellow Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, feels he is being punished for looking into the Dink case.

There are many around the globe who complain about the media, who shout to the heavens about their in accuracy, corporate strings and alliances as well as their elitist and various political biases. But with the those who risk all to tell the truth, especially the 179 jailed journalists mentioned on CPJ’s list, the liberty of every one of us disappear.

The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” Thomas Jefferson, top author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence