Press is the fourth estate. At least that is what it is supposed to be. In a world filled with power hungry people, press is what brings the people on top to their knees. It informs, tells people what is right, and shows the face of humanity.
It has been known to change history.
Way back in the 1700s, a reporter called John Peter Zenger influenced the American revolution.
A mere photograph by Kevin Carter of a dying child in Africa brought the problem of malnutrition to the forefront in 1993. Two young men Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein created history when they decided to expose the most powerful man in the world at that time in the “Watergate scandal”.
And yet, since its inception the press has been attacked for standing up to what was wrong in the world. While they are supposed to be watchdogs, the people who bring the news to the world are hounded.
I don't follow the French press, and yet as I watched the news coverage of militants shooting journalists in Paris, I couldn't help wondering why. More than feeling sad because of a sense of camaraderie, I was struggling with the logic behind this shoot-out.
But then, one cannot be so naive being a part of this industry. They were not logical people who took decisions based on thinking. They are radicals, those who think that taking innocent lives is the best way to stop more criticism. More than God, a man's mind works in mysterious ways.
These people who went in with the Kalashnikovs must have the same mindset as those who killed 145 people in Peshawar, among which were 132 children. They burnt alive a teacher who was trying to save her pupils – they did not think of humanity. They did not think of anything but were trying to make people fear them. In some way, they thought fear will help them achieve their goals.
The attackers in Peshawar killed the future, the Parisian militants killed the present. They targeted people who challenged what they felt was their faith. Who pointed out what was wrong with their fanaticism. The cartoonists who died were not brave in the sense of what the armed forces face every day. Their courage showed from the fact that they were not afraid of backlash, which was bound to happen – a quality many journalists lack today, in the times of armchair reporting. But they did not know that mad men will come barging into their place of work and hit out, and in a matter of minutes silence their voices; voices that laughed at the narrow-mindedness of their attackers.
Is the press going to keep quiet over this? Will we just stop because we are now scared of elements who threaten us. It did not happen when Ken Oosterbroek lost his life in crossfire in South Africa 20 years ago. It did not happen when Daniel Pearl (in 2002) and more recently when two US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff were beheaded by extremists. It won't happen now!
There will be a lot more outrage, many more people standing up for fellow humans, because they are informed. Because people are willing to put everything on line to bring about the change in the world for humans to evolve.
Kill the messenger all you will, but there will be lot more, raring to challenge these egotistical maniacs. Men who are not afraid to die for the sake of the truth. Men who would not put their pens down simply because death came in the way.
RIP Cabu, Honore, Tignous, Charb and Wolinski