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Mightier than the sword

As an open and welcoming news source for all, empowering local residents to become citizen journalists, the news coming from Paris has hit us hard here at The Rapidian. It's also made us stronger.
Community Media Center staff raise their pens to freedom of expression, speech and the press

Community Media Center staff raise their pens to freedom of expression, speech and the press /Erin Wilson

We the staff of The Rapidian don't often write editorials, or express our own opinions here. That's because, as a part of the Community Media Center, we are a platform for all. We're here to support our community's voices, and doing that means that it's our job to step aside and instead empower the voices of our community.

But this is different.

This is personal.

The events yesterday in Paris, where terrorists shot down the staff of a newspaper, gets right at the heart of not just our rights as journalists but our responsibilities.


This is the deal: free speech is not something we can compartmentalize. Allowing some to publish their opinions and information but stopping others from doing so is not freedom, and it's not democracy. This means that reporters at a news outfit like Charlie Hebdo, who used satire and biting comedy taking aim at not just radical Islam but Christianity, Judaism, culture, politics and all manner of current affairs- were exercising their rights in a democratic country.

It also means that journalists should not be told to put away their cameras, arrested for doing their work, or corraled into a "press pen" far away from what's happening, as we saw during the early protests in Ferguson. 

There is not an "area" where it is okay to be recording and reporting the truth. There are no privacy laws being broken when journalists want to enter public areas to report the news happening there. If they are putting themselves at risk, if there is danger there, then guess what: that is the journalists' choice, not anyone else's choice. That's their right, and their responsibility.

The public needs access to information if they are to be able to be engaged in what's going on in their own communities. If the news staff can't have access to the news, or are intimidated from reporting it, then who will keep the public informed?

As a citizen journalism news source, we at The Rapidian stand behind our fellow journalists, professional and otherwise. As the Community Media Center, we stand firmly in the belief that free speech is our bedrock, and we- along with all of the others pronouncing #jesuischarlie around the world- believe that though this bedrock may seem to have been shaken recently, it will not be moved.

In fact, as the dust settles, we find our foundation is even stronger than before.

We stand up and demand justice. We work together to provide access to platforms where our local citizens can be heard as they exercise their free speech rights. This is why we are here.

This is why we, The Rapidian and our parent organization the Community Media Center, exist.

Nous sommes Charlie.

This fight is not over.

Keep up the good fight, journalists and all who speak truth to power. May all of us be more aware of the importance of free speech and full access to information and a strong supported journalistic practice. Democracy crumbles without her.

Free speech has been embroiled in a rough fight for the past few months, but we are not deterred. To the contrary, the more some try to remove our rights and deny us access to our work, the more we realize the importance of the responsibility we hold.

We are empowered by the attempt to remove our power.


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