We face an existential crisis, a threat to the very relevance and usefulness of our profession. Our values of truth can win out, if we stand together in their defence
This is the text of a speech delivered at the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York on 22 November 2016
I never in a million years thought I would be up here on stage appealing for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home.
The same medium that so effectively transmits a howling message of change also appears to undermine the ability to make it. Social media amplifies the human tendency to bind with one’s own kind. It tends to reduce complex social challenges to mobilizing slogans that reverberate in echo chambers of the like-minded rather than engage in persuasion, dialogue, and the reach for consensus. Hate speech and untruths appear alongside good intentions and truths.
Political leaders and people generally must embrace the responsibility to speak out against bigotry. Unless the center holds against the insidious creep of extremism, history shows how quickly hatred is normalized. What begins with biting your tongue for political expediency, or out of social awkwardness, soon becomes complicity with something far worse. Before you know it, it’s already too late.