While the North Dakota Access Pipeline Project and Native American-led protests have made headlines over the last month, Amy Goodwin’s arrest raises an important question about media silencing.
Goodwin was issued an arrest warrant in September for criminal trespass regarding Democracy Now!’s coverage of the North Dakota Access pipeline protests at the Standing Rock reservation.
As a journalist, was her arrest justified? I think it depends on a couple of factors.
Social media allows for news to travel faster than it ever has before. Our scope of news is wider and some people think that anyone with a camera on their phone can be a journalist. I don’t believe that.
Journalism is a profession with a history in exposing corruption and wrongdoing. Early muckrakers paved way for a century of investigative journalists who changed the world. Unfortunately, technology has allowed for a new era of censorship, which has both aided and restricted journalists from doing their jobs.
I’ve been reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and it feels eerily relatable, despite being a hundred years old. The current problem isn’t with the meatpacking industry, but it’s hard to believe Dakota Access LLC, the company behind the pipeline, isn’t trying to silence voices in the same way.
When it comes down to it, yes, Amy Goodwin was trespassing, but it’s ridiculous to have her arrested and not the other hundreds of people.
Actress Shailene Woodley faced the same charge when she decided to take part in the protests. She was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot.
It seems that Dakota Access LLC arrests anyone with a scope of influence.
Because of this, I feel that it is more important than ever for journalists to be given the ability to do their job efficiently. A journalist needs to be distinguished from a person with a phone and Twitter account. They need exemptions and influence so that they can be present in areas and confrontation, like the pipeline protests. If we want corruption to be exposed, then journalists need to be given the power to do so.
With that power, I believe that media should be unbiased. If Goodwin entered private property to capture pipeline security guards attacking peaceful protestors with dogs and pepper spray, I would say she was justified to do so.
If you witnessed someone getting beat up through an open door, would you not try and help them?
But if Goodwin was there to further her own agenda, in order to stop pipeline construction, then I don’t believe it should be considered journalism. Maybe in that situation her arrest is valid.
Media silencing is a dangerous issue that needs to be addressed and dealt with. If nobody is allowed to expose corruption and wrongdoing then it will only get worse.