This article appeared in the December 14, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Protecting the power of critical voices

Myat Thu Kyaw/Reuters
Activists gather at a rally calling for the release of imprisoned Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, one year after they were arrested, in Yangon, Myanmar, Dec. 12.
Clayton Collins
Director, editorial innovation

As good information spreads, so does its power to do good.

That quality modifier is important. It requires a belief that professional journalists deserve plaudits like this week’s Person of the Year nod, for those who’ve been killed or imprisoned, from Time magazine.

It requires a belief that work guided by fairness deserves protection from those who would squelch it to hold power. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that the number of journalists jailed worldwide – more than 250 in each of the past three years – is the highest since it began tracking the number in 1990.

Also making news: word that half the world’s population is now internet-connected. Add-ons in African countries drove the total gains by one reckoning, soaring from 2.1 percent connected in 2005 to more than 24 percent in 2018.

That’s significant. Even as big players wrestle for the reins of social media, employing some deeply questionable means, new voices are coursing through it. Real danger lurks where those voices pass disinformation. Authoritarians can hijack narratives.

But some voices are credentialed. And some share a thirst for justice. Just one example: In a new roundup of emerging trends, the journalism-watcher Nieman Lab features a forecast from Joel Konopo, managing partner of the Botswana-based INK Centre for Investigative Journalism.

“I believe 2019 is the year that a majority of young disenfranchised Africans and digital influencers will use the power of hashtag movements to demand greater responsibility from their leaders,” Mr. Konopo wrote. “This will be hard to ignore.”

Now to our five stories for your Friday, from the power of compromise and cooperation to a therapeutic new use for art. 

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This article appeared in the December 14, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 12/14 edition