Sunday, November 27, 2005

Editorial deals with sources - Or: Nazi Folk Punks Must Die! 
If Time, Inc. reporters can strike a deal with a family of overtly racist neo-Nazi purveyors of propaganda and agree in advance not to mention the words "hate," "Nazi" "racist" or the fact that they're Holocaust deniers, when it's a nonsense little human interest profile and who cares if they don't get the interview, then what deals are they cutting to get exclusive interviews and information with actual terrorists?

And before you think that this is just a one-off, and that they'd never whore themselves so blatantly for access on more major stories about war and terrorism, stop and think.

And think again.

There is one chapter, however, that is almost worth the price of the book, a trenchant attack by John Burns of The New York Times on some in the Baghdad press corps for their failure to report the true horror of Saddam Hussein's regime before the invasion by U.S. forces.

Burns accuses unnamed correspondents of bribing Iraq officials with candlelight dinners, $600 mobile phones and "thousands of dollars" to gain access, while never mentioning the minders, the terror. "And in one case," says Burns, "a correspondent who actually went to the Internet Center at the Al-Rashid hotel and printed out copies of his and other people's stories - mine included specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others." Burns adds, "He was with a major American newspaper. Yeah, it was an absolutely disgraceful performance."

P.S. There's another word they use in the magazine business for a "junior employee." It's called "reporter."

P.P.S., In a prior life, not so long ago, I was a reporter for Time, Inc - the same company that publishes "Teen People." I read the editorial policy manual when I was hired, and I don't recall any mention that reporters and sources could not discuss the use of language and syntax. The articles stood or fell on their own merits. But you'd think the term "White Pride" would raise a flag on the play before it left the editorial review and story selection process.

I was watching CNNi over the week-end, and since I am aware of the Iraqi "access" issue, I was interested to see how they covered Iran.

One piece reported on a demonstration by Iranian militias for nuclear power and showed a clip of the Iranian president speaking at the rally, saying something along the lines that Iran has a right to nuclear power.

You often see such stories on CNN, and this one as usual reported the Iranian view without any comment. (Like this issue is about nuclear weapons not nuclear power.) However, they were showing the government rally and showing a presidential speech, so I could swallow letting this slide.

The very next piece was by an ITN reporter of Iranian descent who was traveling to Tehran for the first time in many years. She marveled at the cell phones and the fashion shawls, etc. Then in the market, she said she found many people who "were willing to support the government's fight for the right of nuclear power against the west." okay, paraphrased, but what was striking is the wording she used was almost EXACTLY if not exactly that used by the Iranian president in his speech, and certainly this expat Iranian would understand it's not about nuclear power but the NPT issues.

I immediately smelled a rat: was she being forced to include the government line in her story for "access?" Also, she showed a street protest (people who were protesting job cuts at a state run firm) which also seemed a bit 'forced' seeing as how the political protests were not allowed.

Very fishy.
Well, the question may need to be asked, with all seriousness, does the general populace watch news broadcasts of or from a totalitarian state and imagine them to be, shall we say, free and uncensored?

Not that I am protecting CNN or the likes, but wondering if we are in fact not giving the US populace enough credit for recognizing BS in a story on totalitarian states when they see it?

My youngest brother is about as "moonbatty" as you can get and still recognizes Iran as a threat. Just noting.

Secondly, the issue in Iraq was also noted by Matthew McAllester in his book "Blinded By the Sunlight". He was very upfront and did not use any illusions, but said that every reporter had to walk the line on Iraq. Not just when writing from inside Iraq, but any articles the reporter ever wrote because the ministry of information, which credentialed reporters coming into Iraq, would google the reporters name and look up their articles. Anyone whose reports were deemed "critical" would not be credentialed and would possibly be immediately escorted to the Syrian or Jordanian border. McAllester even talks about lying to his minders and the MOI about his purpose of being in Iraq, saying he disagreed with Bush and Blair and was there to cover the human shields.

At the same time, they had hidden two satellite phones and were trying to get outside email accounts through an anonymous source in order to file their reports because everything else was monitored coming in and out.

So, I think this is true, but the real question is, if no one was willing to risk losing their credentials in Iraq to tell the real story then why were they even going to and reporting from Iraq? Was reporting state sanctioned "propaganda" enough?

I do note that some reporters attempted to get private "on the side" interviews with every day Iraqis (was that Peter Arnette?). I recall seeing that special back in '94 or '95.
So did Burns ever say who that reporter was?

Publish the names.
how can i start a blog
Your blog is different than the rest of them. I found it on the blogger home page. I have a site on international phone cards maybe we could trade links?
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