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Meryl Streep stands up for the independence of media, asks others to protect journalists

In a hard-hitting speech Hollywood actor Meryl Streep took on the ‘high and mighty’ by asking all to join her in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and pitching in for the independence of the media in the age of Trump.

hollywood Updated: Jan 09, 2017 15:16 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Meryrl Streep,Meryrl Streep speech,Attacks on media
Actor Meryl Streep accepts the Cecil B DeMille Award during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards show in Beverly Hills, California, US, January 8, 2017. Her speech at the awards went viral.(REUTERS)

It’s rare to see a big name celebrity take to the stage at a movie awards show and talk about controversial issues such as attacks on the press and the divisive nature of a Donald Trump presidency. But then Meryl Streep isn’t like most of her contemporaries.

Meryl, who emerged at a time when socially and politically conscious filmmaking was the norm rather than blockbuster superhero franchises, struck a powerful blow for the independence of the media in the age of Trump in her emotional nearly six-minute speech at the 74th Annual Golden Globes.

“We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage,” she said after making a reference to the mocking of a differently-abled journalist by Trump, whom she did not name even once in her speech.

Meryl asked the “famously well-heeled Hollywood foreign press” and other actors to join her in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) because “we're going to need them going forward and they'll need us to safeguard the truth”.

While her message was largely aimed at the American public ahead of Trump’s inauguration on January 20, the way it was shared on social media reflected its resonance with people around the world.

The emergence of strongmen such as Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte, who have shown they care little for the niceties of diplomacy and traditional freedoms such as the freedom of the press makes Meryl’s message a universal message, a global call for action.

The actor asked fellow actors to support Committee to Protect Journalists. (AP)

The work done by organisations such as CPJ is sometimes dismissed even by journalists – a common refrain is “what difference will these reports make” – but they play a key role in highlighting problems faced by journalists and acting as pressure groups that can force governments and authorities to take action.

In the case of CPJ itself, one of its recent reports listed 40 Indian journalists, including Rajdev Ranjan of the Hindustan, who were killed for their work.

The CPJ also highlighted how there have been no convictions in the cases of at least 27 Indian journalists, many from small towns, who were murdered for their work in exposing corruption.

At a time when so many of Meryl Streep’s counterparts in India have been trolled into not speaking their minds, the CPJ, which bills itself as “an independent, nonprofit organisation that promotes press freedom worldwide”, needs the support of people like her if it is to continue doing the kind of work it does without fear.

(The views expressed by the writer are personal. He tweets as @rezhasan)

First Published: Jan 09, 2017 13:01 IST