The Conversation publishes Socolow piece about chilling effect on media

The Conversation ran Michael Socolow’s piece “Investigating the investigative reporters: Bad news from Down Under,” that details the chilling effect that law enforcement can have on journalists. The University of Maine media historian noted the June 5 raid at the headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Company, and referenced journalists who revealed American soldiers’ slaughter of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai, and the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. “Courageous journalism is critical to democracy, and its role in checking the power of state authority is essential,” wrote Socolow, currently a Fulbright Scholar at the News & Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra in Australia. If law enforcement can lodge doubt and instill fear in minds of journalists and sources, or gets media to shy away from controversial stories, Socolow says the raids will have served their purpose. The chilling effect, he wrote, “can only be measured in the negative, when stories aren’t reported.” “That hesitation and uncertainty in the mind of every journalist and confidential source represents the real damage to democracy. But it’s something that will receive far less publicity than any police raid.” The Houston Chronicle also ran the piece.