A lot of Russian propaganda outlets are being shut down in the west by western governments and private corporations. Russia state-owned outlets that have been operating freely in Europe and the United States, RT and Sputnik, have taken a huge hit and are being blocked.

While the west is blocking Russia’s fake news outlets, much of it as part of sanctions, Russia has created a new “fake news” law while also blocking western news in Russia.

Russia is already cracking down on protests against its illegal invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s war crimes and is now blocking independent news outlets that would inform its citizenry of events in the war the state doesn’t want them to know.

Last Thursday, the Duma (Russia’s legislative body) made it a crime to publish “fake news” or misinformation about Russia’s war in Ukraine. It will be Russian government authorities who determine what’s fake. Vladimir Putin signed it into law on Friday. Immediately, Russian and international news organizations either withdrew their reporters from the country, changed how they did their work or shut down completely.

Bloomberg announced it was suspending its work in the country. Editor-in-chief John Micklethwait said the law “seems designed to turn any independent reporter into a criminal purely by association” and “makes it impossible to continue any semblance of normal journalism inside the country.”

The public service broadcasters of Canada, Germany, and Italy each suspended their operations inside Russia.

The BBC announced it was suspending its work in Russia but that “BBC News in Russian will still be produced from outside the country.” The director-general of the BBC said, “The safety of our staff is paramount and we are not prepared to expose them to the risk of criminal prosecution simply for doing their jobs.”

Radio Free Europe is also suspending its operations inside Russia while also initiating bankruptcy proceedings against its Russian unit because of millions of dollars in unpaid “fines” against the broadcaster for refusing to obey a Russian law that would “cripple its editorial content.”

ABC News and CBS News are both ceasing their broadcast from inside Russia. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both declined to say how they will proceed in the fascist state. The Washington Post, however, plans to keep reporting from inside Russia and is taking the unusual step of removing bylines and datelines from its stories in order to protect its journalists.

Independent Russian outlets are faring worse.  Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper that survived the murder of six of its journalists, and whose editor recently won a Nobel Peace Prize, said it will no longer report on Russia’s military actions but will continue to report on sanctions and persecutions of dissidents.

More than 150 Russian journalists have fled the nation in recent days. The Kremlin has blocked Facebook, Twitter, and a host of international news sites. This blog will probably be blocked in Russia as well. In fact, this site hasn’t received a click from Russia in over a month.

Here in the United States, In addition to Donald Trump villainizing journalists, the greatest threat to journalists are the corporations that employ journalists. The caretakers of a free press have become the morticians.

Conservatives have chosen to back Ukraine against Russia, but they’ve also been opponents of a free press here in the United States. While calling Putin a fascist, they ignore that getting rid of a free press is how you get fascism.

Even the term “fake news” is dangerous to a free press as we’re getting to the point that people can’t tell the difference between news and propaganda. News that you don’t like is not “fake news.” There are no alternative facts. There are just facts. There is no “fake news” as any news that’s fake is NOT news. People are getting their “information” from memes and don’t think twice or research a claim before resharing. People share memes, not because they’re true, but because they want the meme’s claims to be true.

And then you have News Max, One American News Network, Fox News, and all the Tuckers, Hannitys, Gutfelds, Ingrahams, and shit there are too many to list.

Newspapers are now a dying industry being gobbled up by corporations that gut the papers in their chains, liquidate all its assets, lay off most of its staff, sell the paper again where the new owner repeats the actions of the last owner. All Gatehouse/Gannett newspapers run the exact same editorial page along with other content. It’s now common for a daily newspaper’s A section to only contain six pages. Lee Enterprises, Gatehouse/Gannett, McClatchy (in bankruptcy proceedings where I’m listed as someone they owe money to but who will never receive it), and Berkshire Hathaway all care more about the stock market than they care about journalism. They don’t care about local journalism or serving a community. And they don’t care about the people who gather the news. Since I was laid off from The Free Lance-Star in 2012, the paper has had four owners. FOUR!

In Russia, the government is the greatest danger to a free press. Here, we destroy it on our own.

I can go on and on about how I’ve been affected personally and in business, but I’m gonna save that for another day. But I’ll just say, it’s extremely frustrating when editors and news outlets just decide they’re not going to pay you anymore.

I feel like I got thrown off a building when COVID started and I’m still falling.

See more award-winning editorial cartoons from Clay Jones at Claytoonz.com.

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Clay Jones

Clay Jones is one of America’s most popular political cartoonists. In 2013 he resigned from Creators Syndicate after being represented by them for over a decade to represent himself. Today he’s in some of the nation’s leading daily newspapers along with smaller community publications, dailies and weeklies.

Jones is currently drawing one cartoon each week for the CNN Opinion Newsletter.​ His​ cartoons have entertained readers in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, USA Today and Newsweek magazine.

See more award-winning editorial cartoons from Clay Jones at Claytoonz.com.