Press freedom not a US custom

The Swedish Journalist Association (SJF) has sent a letter to the US Secretary of State Colin Powell in protest of the US Immigration Authorities’ treatment of foreign journalists. SJF claims that journalists have been treated as criminals, been imprisoned and denied contact with their countries’ embassies.

That reminds me of something I read in Dan Gillmor’s outline to his book Making the News.

The biggest governmental threats are outside the United States, of course, where governments and other powerful players routinely intimidate journalists, or worse. In addition, governments elsewhere are much more likely to control cyberspace. We’ll ask whether Making the News has a prayer of working in places where the First Amendment is viewed as a crazy American notion. (I’m optimistic.)

It’s easy to make fun of Americans’ ignorance about the world outside their own continent, but for anyone, even us who are not journalists, it becomes painfully obvious that we are all viewed upon as possible terrorists when we enter the US customs having to leave fingerprints and get our mug shots taken. Kudos to Brazil who had the guts to protest.