Sarah Olson and the Struggle to Save Journalism

The Nation magazine's John Nichol's writes that American journalism is under assault and "the greatest of all threats comes when journalists fail to defend fellow reporters and editors who have come under direct attack. ... Sarah Olson, a 31-year-old independent writer and radio producer from Oakland, California, finds herself in the targets of Army prosecutors, Those prosecutors are demanding that Olson help them build the case against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, an officer who faces a court-martial trial for expressing opposition to the war in Iraq and for refusing to deploy with a unit being dispatched to that country. ... 'It's not a reporter's job to participate in the prosecution of her own sources,' she explains. 'When you force a journalist to participate, you run the risk of turning the journalist into an investigative tool of the state.' There is no question that Olson is right. The question is whether journalists will stand with her as she defends our craft. ... I am proud to add my name to the list of signers of a statement that is not merely a defense of Sarah Olson but a reassertion of the founding principle that a free press is the essential underpinning of democracy."