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This title is frightening to even consider- the fact that journalism could no longer be a right that everyone has. We learned about online activism in class this semester and about how many people in America are able to participate in online journalism thanks to the power of the internet. However, this is not exactly the case in Belarus. Irina Khalip was someone who worked for the independent media in Belarus, and was therefore considered something of a muckraking journalist. Her stories, she said, “provoke many of the online discussions in Belarus.”

In the states, or in most other Western countries, a journalist whose stories incite online discussion would be considered a great success. That, in fact, is one of the main goals of online journalism and activism and one of the main benefits of the internet in journalism – the discussion can incite so fast and anyone from all over the world can engage. However, in areas where human rights are restricted, the last thing people want is to incite intellectual debate on the internet.

Nicolai Khalezin, one of Khalip’s oldest friends, said, “she could easily do a very tough and unpopular evaluation of an event or person, but that’s what makes her a good journalist.” In America, this is true.In Belarus, such is not the case. Eventually, she came to represent the “hope, risk and sacrifice Belarusians encounter when they raise their voices against the entrenched, Soviet-style government that still calls its security apparatus the KGB.”

Unfortunately, Khalip has been jailed for periods of time, kept from her husband, and had her phone calls monitored very closely thanks to her activism. It is very sad to me that because of someones government, they can not attempt to spread truth which is the main goal of journalism in the first place. Hopefully Khalip finds somewhere that will not persecute her for trying to distribute truth on a large scale, something that can easily be done through the power of social media.

Irina Khalip

Photo by Christina Karcheveskaya

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