The Frankfurt Book Fair is always an exciting publishing industry event. Kick it off with Salman Rushdie as a keynote speaker, talking about free speech and you have an event worthy of world-wide discovery. Publishers Weekly posted a great article, “Frankfurt Book Fair 2015: At Opening, Salman Rushdie Defends Free Speech” about this monumental event.
“I’ve always thought in a way that we should not need to discuss freedom of speech in the West, that it should be like the air we breathe,” Rushdie said. But violence and the ongoing threats of violence, he acknowledged, requires publishers to fight on.”
“At this point, publishing begins to feel like a war,” he observed. “And publishers and writers are not warriors. We have no guns, no tanks. But it falls to us to hold the line, not to withdraw from our positions, but to understand that this is a position from which we cannot fall back.”
As publishers here in the U.S. we need to recognize how lucky we are to be able to publish what we want, and to understand the power behind our publications.
This article made me stop and think about the content I am working on and I’m reflecting on how I can, and should be doing a better job for the reader, as a publisher and a writer. I sent this article around to my editorial team and have asked everyone to think about the incredible freedom we have as publishers, and if we’re doing all that we can do.
Since reading the article, I’ve spent some time on line searching on the subject of “freedom of the press making an impact” and stumbled upon this Discussion paper – Freedom of the Press and Media in the World by Marietje Schaake MEP.
One particular paragraph in this paper stood out to me and I read it several times over.
“In many societies across the world however, it is precisely the powerful impact of independent journalism, and increasingly digital media and their cohesive effects, which create anxiety to those in power. Sunlight is a threat to those who seek to hide corruption, abuse of power, and injustice from the public eye. Journalists and media still mostly face restrictions coming from government interference. Should citizen journalists be distinguished from quality journalism and do different rights and responsibilities apply? Is a newspaper article more valuable than a 20 sentence online blog, and who should make that judgment?”
Freedom of speech should be a fundamental right for everyone around the world and I am grateful that I have such an opportunity speak freely. As we continue to move through the Masters of Professional Publishing program at The George Washington University, let’s all keep freedom of speech top of mind and we’re sure to become publishers that will make a positive impact on the world.