What are we doing with the privilege of ease?

Resilience in media
4 min readJun 4, 2021

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Saying that journalism is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world might seem like an overstatement or an understatement depending on where you are. Sadly, for many reporters around the world, risk becomes more familiar than their own shadows.

From Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to logging corporations in Europe and organized crime in Mexico, we have watched in horror how different levels of power persecute, imprison and murder journalists. Call it sense of duty, bravery or sheer stubbornness, but this hasn’t stopped this field from holding the powerful accountable, facilitating civic conversations and empowering communities through information and knowledge. Like Javier Valdez Cárdenas, one of Mexico’s most prominent journalists, tweeted just two months before his murder in 2017:

“Let them kill us all, if that’s the death sentence for reporting on this inferno. No to silence.”

Source: Rise Up | Illustration by Kirsten Elharda

In the last few weeks, Nicaragua has resurfaced as the most recent epicenter of violence against journalists and leaders of the opposition.

On May 4, right after World Press Freedom Day, the Nicaraguan National Assembly approved legislation that will deprive their people of true free and fair elections in November. Meanwhile, the authoritarian government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo continue to harass, repress and criminalize local and international journalists.

Since the civil unrest in 2018, the Ortega-Murillo regime has consistently and increasingly persecuted independent journalists, even if it means the theft and military occupation of their office buildings. Now, in one of the most vicious attacks against the independent press in Nicaragua in recent years, the public prosecutor has summoned at least 16 journalists –including María Lilly Delgado Talavera, María Lourdes Arróliga and Guillermo Medrano– as witnesses or subjects of an investigation in a case of alleged money laundering.

The police also stormed into the house of Cristiana Chamorro, a prominent opposition leader, and filed money laundering charges against her too, in what seems as an attempt to stop an electoral challenge and smother independent journalism in the country.

[Update] Between June 8 and June 9, Nicaraguan police have detained five prominent opposition figures –including politicians and civil society leaders– on unsubstantiated charges of subversion and money laundering. This new wave of arrests has left the long-ruling authoritarian president, Daniel Ortega, free to run almost unopposed in November’s general elections.

There’s intersectionality even in violence

While attacks on the free press are ubiquitous, there’s intersectionality even in violence. How much have you heard or read about this in your social media feed? If you’re not in Central America, probably not so much during the first wave of arrests. Would this have received more coverage if these journalists were all white, or if this happened in the US, UK or Europe instead of Nicaragua? Probably yes.

Regardless, here’s a question we should all be asking right now: What are we doing with the privilege of ease?

Those of us who are not looking over our shoulder, who aren’t dragged into an interrogation room without our constitutional right to legal representation, who don’t have to work in safe houses to protect our families … those of us who are watching these events unfold from afar: what are we doing with the privilege of ease?

Perhaps the baseline is to inform ourselves about this and raise our voices for those who are silenced by force. If you’re bilingual, help bridge the language barrier and translate information for international audiences. Fight misinformation and disinformation as fiercely as you can. Check in on your Nicaraguan friends and colleagues. If you’re well-versed in cybersecurity, psychological first aid or legal aid, you can volunteer your services for qualified organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Vita Activa and AccessNow. Also, remember that many news organizations were forced out of their offices by the Nicaraguan police, so if it’s within your possibilities, you can also donate to support independent media like Confidencial and Divergentes. Every little bit goes a long way in defending democracy and a free press.

Bottomline is: if we have the privilege of ease, we should be doing something meaningful with it, especially for those who are being deprived of it.

Gaby Brenes is a multimedia journalist dedicated to addressing two questions: How might we tell useful, relevant and compelling stories that cut through the noise? And how might we cultivate resilience, agility and inclusion in news organizations? In a Venn diagram with digital strategy, social research and multimedia literacy, she’d be right where the circles overlap.

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Resilience in media

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