In today’s world, information is being thrown at us faster than we can take it all in. Every day, there are advancements being discovered, truths uncovered, and revelations guiding and shaping a new world. Often times, journalists are at the forefront of the dissemination of information in today’s culture. However, the freedom of the press is, even today, not guaranteed to all worldly citizens. Journalists from countries all over the world are fighting the good fight to keep their fellow citizens knowledgeable. Some of these journalists have faced the ultimate backlash, including reprimand, loss of job, exile, or worse. Even still, the necessity for accurate, truthful reporting has not left their minds. It has only encouraged them to seek different outlets of dissemination – where words fail, music speaks.
Censorship of journalism is not a new fad. For decades, journalists in countries like China, Egypt, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam have lived under an iron fist, suppressing the freedom of information. Fortunately for journalists like Chang Ping of China, “protest music” is filling the divide. With the help of Reports Without Borders Germany and creative agency DDB Berlin, Ping and other journalists like him have found new footing on music streaming platforms. Although certain countries have strict press control, there are leniencies with regard to such sites as Spotify, Deezer, and Apple Music. Through The Uncensored Playlist, journalists are working with musicians to turn their censored stories into pop songs and uploading them to the platforms that are freely available.
Music as a form of protest is as engrained into culture as music itself, especially American culture. “Yankee Doodle” was first and foremost a British song used to antagonize Americans around the start of the War of Independence. American patriots would then go on to use this song against them, changing the words to fit their narrative, and sang it as the British surrendered at Bunker Hill. More recently, “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen was written in protest over the lack of care for returning Vietnam veterans from government officials.
Although these protest songs were written as pop songs for the local communities where they originated, they have also been recorded in English for worldwide listeners. Beyond that, with the help of MediaMonks, the movement now has a website where those interested can learn more about the journalists and their individual stories. Although the journalists’ names are widespread and connected to the project, it was also important to keep the identity of the music artists they worked with anonymous. The safety of these artists from retaliation has been considered with the utmost concern.
Reporters Without Borders is publically voicing concern over the general erosion of media freedom in English-speaking countries like the UK and USA. Director Christophe Deloire stated, “The rate at which democracies are approaching the tipping point is alarming for all those who understand that if media freedom is not secure, then none of the other freedoms can be guaranteed.” Despite the alarm, the hopeful message of The Uncensored Playlist is clear – truth finds a way!
For more information on The Uncensored Playlist, click here!
Jon Bee, Student Services Administrator, Voice Faculty, Uncensored Musician