Trial-and-Error is a Painful but Necessary Process for a Truly Free Press

Josh Friedman Contributes to The Globe and Mail

Josh Friedman, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, was the chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists and director of International Programs at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He now chairs the Logan Nonfiction Program advisory board, sits on the advisory board of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and serves as vice-chair at the Carey Institute for Global Good.

On a trip to Ethiopia in the 1990s, I met with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to try to persuade him to stop jailing journalists. Since Mr. Zenawi’s guerillas had ousted a repressive Soviet-backed dictatorship a few years before, there had been an explosion of exuberant and sometimes wildly inaccurate little newspapers, many of them attacking him. So he had cracked down, introducing laws criminalizing what he called “insults” to the government and fining and imprisoning journalists for inaccuracies. Ethiopia quickly became one of the world’s top jailors of journalists….

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