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Tom Meagher


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Free Barry Bearak

From time to time, you read about journalists being imprisoned in far-off countries for doing their jobs. Only rarely do you recognize their names.

Yesterday, Barry Bearak of the New York Times was arrested in Zimbabwe and accused of  “practicing journalism without accreditation”. I made Bearak’s acquaintance a few years ago when he was teaching at Columbia University’s journalism school. I’ve since become a fan of his work. He’s a gifted and probing writer who has won the Pulitzer Prize, the highest honor in American journalism.

I heard about Bearak’s arrest this morning on the BBC. I can’t profess to know all the ins and outs of the situation in Zimbabwe, but I know that Bearak is a journalist of integrity. I hope that Barry is safe and sound and released quickly.

It’s an outrage that any government would jail a journalist for doing his job. A lot of people like to grouse about the American news media and accuse it of rampant bias. But situations like these only reinforce how vital an unfettered press is to a true democracy.

**Update: **Bearak was freed on bail Monday. Hopefully, his case will help shine a light on the persecution of journalists and restrictions on the free flow of information in Zimbabwe. Maybe that light can help the people there make a change.