Wednesday, 17 February 2010 00:11

I am muzzled

By

I want to shout from the rooftops to proclaim a triumph of online journalism.  But I can't.  I want to show you all a prize-winning piece of video.  But I'm banned from doing so; the threat of an $11,000 fine hangs over me and this site.

The George Polk Awards in Journalism are (according to Wikipedia) "a series of American journalism awards presented annually by Long Island University in New York" which were established in memory of CBS correspondent George Polk, killed in 1947 covering the Greek civil war.

Every year, recipients are recognised in a number of categories ranging from Foreign, legal, Economics and Education Reporting, through Television, Radio and Internet Reporting to Photojournalism.

It is this last category to which I wish to draw attention.

Announcing the 2009 winners, The University states "A reporter who was held captive by the Taliban and an anonymous videographer who filmed the killing of a woman during a protest in Iran are among those honored in 13 categories."

The announcement continues, "The George Polk Award for Videography will recognize the efforts of the people responsible for recording the death of 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan at a June protest in Tehran, Iran, and uploading the video to the Internet. Ms. Agha-Soltan reportedly was shot by a pro-government militiaman.

"The video, which shows the woman collapsing to the ground and being attended to by several men as she lay dying on the street, became a rallying point for the reformist opposition in Iran after it was broadcast over the Internet. Seen by millions as it spread virally across the Web, the images quickly gained the attention of international media."

Immediately following this citation, the announcement page includes a link to the video.


It is this link that I cannot show you.

'Why' you ask? 

Because this video was submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) who requested a determination from the Classification Board.

Based on the Board's decision, ACMA declared the video to be "prohibited content" under clause 20(1)(b) of Schedule 7 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.'  This means that all known links to the video will find their way onto the Internet Filter blacklist.

And offering a link to the video could result in an $11,000 fine for me and for iTWire.

Quite rightly, we wish to celebrate all of the winners and their winning works, but in this one instance, Australians will simply have to take my word that this is a worthy winner of the prize. 

Alternately, readers might just have to find the video for themselves (and break the law doing so).


This is a crucially important piece of video which will be seen and recognised as such throughout the world, but (officially) not in Australia.  Perhaps we should go out on a limb and praise this instead.  After-all, soon it will be the toughest material we'll be permitted to see.

Our Federal Government must be made to understand the foolishness of their Internet Filter proposal.  Concerned citizens should consider joining the Australia-wide rallies to protest the Filter on March 6th.

"All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships." - George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

"Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself." - Potter Stewart (1915 - 1985)

"We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship." - E. M. Forster (1879 - 1970)

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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