If, as the saying goes, information is power, then journalists can be seen as watchdogs of our government leaders and custodians of the public good, providing truthful information to help citizens build or preserve democratic societies. DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE is a comprehensive look at journalists worldwide, working in different media and various languages, as they attempt to speak truth to power.
Filmed in the United States and countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe and the Middle East, DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE profiles international journalists as they cover local and international events, and in the process enables them to discuss their sense of vocation, the need to defend journalistic principles against commercial pressures, how they deal with censorship or government constraints, as well as dangerous and even life-threatening conditions.
Among the many journalists featured are those at Radio SKY in Sierra Leone as they cover an election in a country where more people listen to radio than read newspapers; Moscow journalists (including Anna Politkovskaya, assassinated in October 2006) who discuss government control of the media and covering the Chechen War; the publisher, editors and journalists at the Israeli newspaper Haaretz who explain why they feel it is important, especially for a readership too often concerned only with its own agony, to document the violence directed against Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank; and several U.S. journalists who discuss how the press failed in its reporting of the Bush Administration's misuse of intelligence on the lead-up to the Iraq War.
In an era when mainstream journalism, especially in the U.S., is being steadily eroded by political manipulation, commercial constraints, and circulation and ratings pressures, DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE is an important reminder of the crucial political value of an independent news media in any democratic society.
*** ½ (Three and a half stars) "Inspiring…Highly recommended!"—Video Librarian
"An outstanding resource for most high school or college curricula… a 'must see' for students of journalism and the social sciences. Highly recommended."—Educational Media Reviews Online
"Illuminates the absolutely crucial role of independent journalists in safeguarding democracy. No film has ever shown more clearly how painstaking, dangerous, and unpopular their work can be."—Ann Cooper, Broadcast Director, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
"Traveling to places where journalism, the oxygen of freedom, is being suffocated, this documentary captures the struggle of independent journalists
risking everything to give voice to the voiceless."—Emmy Award Winner Joan Konner, Dean Emerita, Columbia University School of Journalism
"A bracing reminder of why journalism matters—and the sometimes harrowing consequences of practicing journalism that matters."—Editor and Publisher Journal
"Searing! Uses [the journalist's] dangerous work from around the world to forcefully illustrate the importance of freedom of the press in preserving democracy not only abroad, but also at home."—Toronto Globe & Mail