“I entered journalism the way you enter a religion; journalism is my religion. …
The harder it is, the more you have to believe in it and cling to it.”
– Pius Njawe, Cameroon journalist, 2006
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I first read this in 2007 on a First Amendment calendar put out by the Freedom Forum. Journalists know these, each day there is a quote about the First Amendment, free speech, media, open government, etc … .
Of all the quotes I’ve read on the subject, this is the one I can’t forget. Not just because of what it says, but because of who said it: A journalist who doesn’t enjoy the freedoms so many take for granted here in the United States. He “clings” to journalism because he believes in it. Journalists in so many other counties are targets, they face physical harm every day but they do it because they believe it’s the right thing to do.
I can’t imagine living in a place where there aren’t open records laws, where the public isn’t allowed into government meetings, and where there just aren’t any “public” records.
Granted, I don’t know what the exact conditions are like for journalists in this central African area, but I’ve met and talked to some Nigerian journalists who spoke about the fact that they have to accept there are secrets. They do the best job they can for their readers every day.
They cling to the belief they are helping their readers. They have to.
Some people let their religion guide them in their everyday life. Seeing people cling to their religious faith during times of intense struggle is very common. When governments try to erode the rights of free speech and a free press, it only makes me stand taller and fight harder for what I believe to be right. I let the ethics and the principles of those freedoms guide me in my everyday life.
We all have to have something to hold on to in this life: Religion, politics, family … we all have something that we have an unshakable belief in.
I believe that good journalism makes our world a better place.