July 31, 2015 11:20 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

  • Audio China Holding Military Exercises in South China Sea

    China’s state media say the exercises took place Tuesday and more are to begin Saturday. Some U.S. and international security experts think China may be preparing to establish an air defense identification area in the South China Sea. | As It Is More

  • Video Wreckage Could Be From Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

    An airplane part about two meters long was on Reunion Island, 3,500 kilometers from where the flight was last heard from. Now, investigators are trying to find out if it really is part of the plane that went missing in March 2014. The piece is about two meters long. It appears to be a flaperon. More

  • A shot from student documentary 'I, too, Am BCC'

    Video US Student Filmmakers Fight Racial Stereotypes

    Three high school students in Maryland explore the problems that can result from having beliefs about people based only on their race. The film project is based on minority students talking about their thoughts and experiences. The producers show the film in classrooms and hold discussions after. More

  • Audio Taliban Confirms Death of Leader Mullah Omar

    Also Thursday, the Nigerian army said it rescued 59 hostages in a raid on Boko Haram hideouts; an American voter study shows businessman Donald Trump with a big lead in the Republican Party presidential race; And, the US government is investigating the killing in Zimbabwe of the beloved lion, Cecil. More

  • Myanmar hopes to replace poppies with coffee

    Audio In Myanmar, Replacing Poppy Plants with Coffee

    Myanmar’s Shan State is the second-largest opium-producing area in the world. But the area's poppy farmers are now earning less for their crops, as the price of poppy fluctuates. Now, the United Nations is hoping many farmers in Shan State will decide to grow coffee instead. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Study: Smoking May Increase Risk of Schizophrenia

    Researchers reviewed 61 studies from around the world; they discovered cigarette smoking is three times more common among those with schizophrenia who were receiving medical care for the illness for the first time compared to people who did not have the mental disorder. More

  • Audio Folk to Rock: When Dylan Went Electric

    Fifty years ago, folk music legend Bob Dylan rocked out at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island on an electric guitar. He was widely booed. The audience may have been unhappy with Dylan’s performance that day, but it changed the direction of music and culture in the United States. More

  • Audio Why Do Mosquitoes Choose to Bite You?

    Mosquitoes need blood to survive and their favorite target is humans. They are completely driven by smell. How do they find their victims and why do they prefer some people more than others? New research now shows how mosquitoes choose who to bite. More

  • 'You're Giving Me the Creeps!'

    "You're giving me the ...!" The jitters, the creeps, the willies, the heebie-jeebies, goose bumps, butterflies, and a heart attack ... you can give all these things to other people. Are they good or bad? Read on to find out! More

  • Audio Everyday Grammar: Can I, Could I, May I?

    English teachers and parents used to try very hard to get young people to use "may" when asking for permission. Now it seems that "can" or "could" works just as well. Learn about the rules for asking permission with these modals. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs