Two items caught my eye today. This one is a report on the number of journalists killed in the line of duty this year. The number is 42. I remember hearing Crosby Stills Nash & Young perform “Ohio” on their classic live album “4 Way Street.” They sang the line “four dead in Ohio” with such outrage and it stood out to me then as it does now. I feel the same way about the number 42. And the AP report also notes that 235 journalists are currently in jail.
The other report describes the conviction of 21 year old Johnny Roman Garza, 21, who was sentenced to 16 months in an Arizona prison for his role in a Neo-Nazi group’s plot to threaten and intimidate journalists. On Jan. 25 in Phoenix, Garza placed a poster on the bedroom window of an editor at local Jewish magazine – a poster that depicted a figure in a skull mask holding a Molotov cocktail in front of a burning home, along with the warning “You have been visited by your local Nazis.”
He also stopped at the apartment complex where a member of the Arizona Association of Black Journalists lived, but reportedly could not find a place to put the poster. Stupid and racist so often go hand in hand. Here’s what the sentencing judge had to say about it:
“The U.S. District Court judge in this case, Judge John Coughenour, said it has been troubling to see officials at “the highest levels of our government” refer to journalists as “enemies of the people,” . . . . “Referring to journalism and the press and media as ‘fake news’ enables people who are vulnerable to suggestions like this, very young people … that this kind of conduct is appropriate.”
So, maybe the next time you hear some hack politician or some moron on social media railing about “fake news” you might want to point out these stories. Too many journalists put themselves in harm’s way doing their job, or find themselves in harm’s way thanks to gullible vigilantes like Garza to put up with that nonsense.