February 26, 2015 22:56 UTC

As It Is

Freedom House: Only 14 percent of the World's People Have a Free Press

Ukrainian journalists carry a poster reading
Ukrainian journalists carry a poster reading "Stop Censorship!" during a demonstration in Kiev, Ukraine, in 2010.

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
  • Freedom House: Only 14 percent of the World's People Have a Free Press

Freedom House: Only 14 percent of the World's People Have a Free Pressi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Welcome to As It Is, the daily current affairs magazine show from VOA Learning English.
 
Today we hear about a new film aimed at keeping girls around the world in school and learning. We hear how women stepped in to make guitars during the labor shortage of World War Two. But first, we hear about a recent report by Freedom House.
 
An independent press is one of the basic requirements of a free society. Freedom House is a group that seeks to support free reporting around the world.
 
Every year, the Washington-based group releases a report on press freedom.  This year’s Freedom of the Press 2013 report said the number of people who live in a free media environment is at its lowest point in more than ten years.
 
How does Freedom House judge media freedom? David Kramer is president of Freedom House. He says there are many issues affecting media freedom.
 
“The reason that a country is not free [is] because it fails to meet the criteria when it comes to a legal freedom, political freedom, economic freedom for journalists and news organizations to be able to operate.”
 
The report says only 14 percent of the world’s people enjoy a free press. People in the two most populous countries in the world are not among them. China is rated as not free while India is rated partly free.  China, Russia, Iran and Venezuela have long suppressed reporters. Russia passed new censorship laws for the Internet last year. And China tightly controls its traditional and digital media with censorship and arrests.
 
A new movie is bringing attention to an old problem: the lack of education for girls in many countries, especially poor countries. Karen Leggett has the story.
 
Girls with eight years of education are four times less likely to marry as a child. But there are 66 million girls in the world who are not in school. American television producer Holly Gordon says, “If you want to improve the economy, if you want to change health outcomes, if you want to break cycles of poverty, educating girls is the best investment you can make.”
 
Gordon is the executive director of Girl Rising, a new movie about girls and the education they want and need.  In the movie, nine girls act out their stories in nine different countries. Girls in the movie come from Afghanistan, Egypt, Peru, Haiti, and Ethiopia. Other countries include Sierra Leone, India, Nepal and Cambodia.
 
Sokha from Cambodia was forced to pick through trash to live. But in the movie, she finds a way to go to school; viewers see her dancing traditional Cambodian dances.
 
Each story is written by a writer from that country, such as Marie Arana for Peru and Edwidge Danticat from Haiti. Major actors provide the voice for each story.
This new movie is being advertised in new ways to influence people to act. Several non-government organizations and international companies are involved. They included Ten-by-Ten, Girl UP, a program of the United Nations Foundation, and the technology company Intel.
 
The movie was first seen in the United States in March. Social and political groups, companies, schools, colleges and individuals can organize a showing of the movie through a service on the Internet called Gathr.com.  From the website, people anywhere in the world can ask for, organize or attend special showings of the movie close to where they live.
 
The ten-by-ten website encourages visitors to connect with partner organizations where they can give money or take other action.  The organization will use social media to inform people about new chances to take action. Listen to the movie trailer.
 
“I will read. I will study. I will learn. If you try to stop me, I will just try harder. If you stop me, there will be other girls who will rise up and take my place. I am change.”
 
During World War Two, as American men went off to war, women filled the jobs they left behind. Women worked in factories, stores and shipyards. One group of women made musical instruments, building Gibson guitars. Christopher Cruise has more on their story.
 
John Thomas is a writer and a lover of guitars. He was surprised when he saw a wartime photograph of the Gibson guitar factory in Michigan. The 75 people in the picture were nearly all women. Irene Stearns, now age 90, spent several of the war years working at the factory.
 
"I got out of high school and everybody is looking for a job, and there weren’t any jobs. Then one day, they called and I started at Gibson. I suppose it was because of the war."
 
Irene Stearns is one of the former Gibson factory workers who John Thomas found in the Kalamazoo, Michigan area. She made guitar strings for some of the thousands of instruments the factory produced in the 1940s.
 
"All the celebrities and people who were buying the guitars would come. And they would be on the other side of the wall from where I sat making strings. So, it was really nice in that part. I could hear them playing all these beautiful guitars."
 
John Thomas calls the women who worked at the Gibson factory, the "Kalamazoo Gals." That is also the name of his new book about the female guitar makers. He believes the company kept their work secret because it did not think guitar buyers of the day would use instruments built by women.
 
Mr. Thomas collected three of the World War II Gibson guitars and borrowed several others to help tell the story. Then a friend told him about Lauren Sheehan, a professional musician who agreed to help.
 
"Certainly I'm a champion for a story about women excelling at work that is traditionally a man's domain."
 
Lauren Sheehan bought a restored Gibson guitar for herself. She says she wanted to own a piece of America’s musical heritage.
 
I’m Christopher Cruise.
 
Thank you for listening today. You can read and download our programs at learningenglish.voanews.com. Follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.  Email us at special@voanews.com. And join us at the beginning of the hour Universal Time for the latest news.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Agkcrbs from: South Korea
05/09/2013 1:59 AM
Chinese and Russians need not feel singled out; the news entities of America are close behind them in touting party lines and trickling down political bias, most blatantly during election seasons. Maybe '14 percent' is still too high of a figure.


by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
05/08/2013 4:25 PM
Our great Mahatmaji once said: 'when you educate a man you educate a single individual, but when you educate a girl you educate the whole family'.Those golden words reflects great credit on our Mahatma or great soul. The emancipation of women in every sense of the word is the need of the hour. Thank you.


by: Edgar Guariguata Gil from: Venezuela
05/08/2013 1:43 AM
1 It's true, here in Venezuela is too difficult to make press, it's too hard to work like a journalist.
2 About the Gibson guitar factory I had read it already on 02-12-2013


by: Omdaduddy Zoal Sudan from: K S A - Riyadhy
05/08/2013 12:25 AM
Any how it is a story,but do you think it does belong to the REALITY. For me I do not think so , why ? during the war times , generally the people are busy of many other things e.g : food,peace,security and all other reasons for survival,but normally not music interest.Beside the "handmade music instruments" at war times is not profitable. Thank you . Lovely .

Learn with The News

  • Video Pakistan Tightens School Security after Peshawar Attack

    More than 150 people, mostly children, were killed in the attack at a school in Peshawar last year. Pakistan authority tightens security to protect the schools. One method is to train teachers at Peshawar’s Frontier College for Women in a week-long class on using weapons. More

  • Audio Will North Korea Follow Vietnam, Myanmar?

    South Korea has called for North Korea to follow the reform model of two other Asian countries. But observers say North Korea will likely reject the idea. President Park Geun-hye proposed the idea earlier this month. She said North Korea should carry out reforms like Vietnam. More

  • New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton (R) speaks during a news conference at police headquarters, Feb. 25, 2015, in New York, regarding three men who were arrested on charges of plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group and wage war

    Audio Three in US Charged with Supporting Islamic State

    All three suspects lived in Brooklyn, New York. One was arrested before trying to board a flight to Turkey on Wednesday. Also in the news, Chad's army reportedly killed 270 Boko Haram militants in fighting near the border; and Ukraine has reported reduced fighting in rebel-held areas in the east. More

  • Audio China Investing Heavily in Latin America

    China said last month it plans to invest $250 billion in Latin American and Caribbean countries over the next 10 years. A Chinese company plans to build a canal in Nicaragua. Chinese and Argentine leaders signed several agreements, including one to cooperate on two new nuclear power stations. More

  • Video Former Muslims Break Their Silence

    A former Muslim created a support group for others in the US and Canada who have left the faith. He wants former Muslims to meet, talk about their experiences and know that nothing is wrong with the decision to leave their religion -- some say it is a crime that can be punished by death. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Young Writer’s Plays Explore Race, Identity in America

    Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' latest play 'An Octoroon,' is showing at a theater in New York City. It is based on a 19th Century work by Dion Boucicault. It tells about a white man who falls in love with a woman who is part black. At the time, mixed race marriage was banned in southern US states. More

  • Audio Understanding the Misunderstood Teenage Brain

    A common battle cry of teenagers to adults is, "You just don't understand me!" Well, they might be right. A brain scientist (neuroscientist) and mother to two teenagers says the teenage brain is quite different from the adult brain. She "debunks," or clears up three common myths about teenagers. More

  • Audio Politics Share the Stage at the Oscars

    Racial equality was not the only political or disputed issue performers discussed last night. Some used their acceptances speeches to talk about immigration, women’s rights, illness, suicide and government surveillance. And the movie of an American sniper continues to fuel the debate. More

  • Video Technology Increases Chances of Surviving Aneurym

    Each year, half a million people die from brain aneurysms, -- when a blood vessel burst in the brain. For survivors, physical disabilities are often servere. They may include memory problems, loss of balance, trouble speaking and even blindness. But new technologies are increasing survival rates. More

  • Director Alejandro Inarritu accepts the Oscar for Best Director for his film "Birdman" at the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, Feb. 22, 2015.

    'Birdman' Takes Oscars for Best Picture, Director

    The movie won four Academy Awards in all. 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' also earned four Oscars. The Best Actress award went to Julianne Moore for 'Still Alice' and Eddie Redmayne was honored with the Best Actor Oscar for his work in 'The Theory of Everything.' 'Whiplash' took home three Oscars. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner blog
Confessions of an English Learner blog

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs