Posts Tagged ‘Reuters’
Remember this from The Clip You’ll Never See on TV….
To mainstream media, NATO or Canadian government produced video pieces = “falling into line with government propaganda”, while what the Taliban says = “including all sides in the interests of fairness”.
That’s my take. For a more nuanced explanation, here’s Chris Waddell, the Carty chair in business and financial journalism at Ottawa’s Carleton University, quoted in a Canadian Press story on the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) offering video to media outlets the same way PMO and other organizations offer photos:
It’s not access …. Access is an opportunity to ask questions and an opportunity to engage in independent work according to journalistic principles. What they’re giving you is public relations …. The Prime Minister’s Office can put all this stuff out. The key question is: What are the journalistic standards being applied by the people who are taking it?
Does that mean we’re going to see an end to stories about Taliban statements that don’t include quotes sought by reporters, having a two-way interview with a Taliban spokesperson?
And yes, it does happen, even in the journalistic big leagues:
In a rare public statement, posted in English on a Taliban website (www.alemarah.info/english/) on the eve of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, the reclusive Taliban leader also called on Afghans to break off ties with their “stooge” government….(Reuters)
The Taliban’s reclusive leader has ruled out talks with President Hamid Karzai and called on Afghans to break off relations with his “stooge” administration. In a statement, Mullah Omar also insisted foreign troops were losing the war in Afghanistan …. “Ground realities in our beloved country indicate that the invaders are about to escape,” Omar said in the message posted on a Web site used by the Taliban and e-mailed to journalists from an address often used to send out his statements…. (The Associated Press)
Afghanistan’s Taliban called on US president-elect Barack Obama to repudiate the “war-mongering” policies of President George W. Bush to repair the country’s image abroad, a group that monitors Islamist websites said. “The ground realities in Afghanistan and the expectations of the people of America expressed through their votes demand that Obama should shun all policies followed by Bush,” said a Taliban statement as quoted by the SITE Intelligence group …. (Agence France-Presse)
I may have missed it, but I didn’t see any references in any of these stories suggesting a reporter tried calling either the person issuing the statement or a spokesperson to seek access and ask probing questions.
After all, if you reject one “handout” because you can’t tell what journalistic standards are being applied in the preparation, you’d have to reject all such handouts, right?
Last week, Canada’s Task Force Afghanistan commander Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance spoke to CBC Radio about what’s happening in Afghanistan. It was a 20 minute interview (.mp3 here or here), and it led to some follow-up coverage by Agence France-Presse:
The military situation in Afghanistan is “serious” and “desperate,” the top Canadian commander in the country, General Jonathan Vance, warned in an interview with CBC television station.
“It’s a serious, desperate situation. It’s a major emergency,” he said.
He said it was important to explain the situation to the Afghan and Canadian publics, but not to “sugar coat anything, and it’s certainly not to make the mission seem better than it is.”
“But (I)… try and put all of that into some sort of context such that people — whether they believe we should be here or not — at least they understand,” he said in the 20 minute interview broadcast Wednesday.
Afghanistan is in a “serious, desperate situation” which constitutes a major emergency, Canada’s top commander on the ground said in a frank interview broadcast Wednesday.
Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance made his remarks at the end of a 25-minute interview with the CBC which looked at the tasks confronting Canada’s 2,700 strong mission in southern Afghanistan.
“It’s not to sugar coat anything, and it’s certainly not to make the mission seem better than it is. It’s a serious, desperate situation. It’s a major emergency,” he said.
“But (I) … try and put all of that into some sort of context such that people — whether they believe we should be here or not — at least they understand.”
and Al Jazeera:
Meanwhile, General Jonathan Vance, the chief Canadian commander in Afghanistan, described the military situation as “serious” and “desperate”.
“It’s a major emergency,” he said said in an interview on Canadian televison on Wednesday.
Note the herd effect?
I’ve highlighted quotes from the interview in red to make an interesting point.
Here’s a transcript of the CBC interview (PDF). About 20 minutes of chat works out to about 2,900 words.
The longest quote used in the follow-up stories?
56 words – from a response to the last question of the interview.
Translation: these wire service stories are explaining, at best, TWO PER CENT of an interview in their stories.
What did they miss? More on that in the next post….
Just spotted this map (obtained by the Reuters wire service) highlighting the nastier parts of Afghanistan.
Reuters’ approach (highlight in red mine for later comment)?
“Almost half of Afghanistan is at a high risk of attack by the Taliban and other insurgents or is under “enemy control,” a secret Afghan government map shows, painting a dire security picture before presidential elections …. The threat assessment map, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, shows 133 of Afghanistan’s 356 districts are regarded as high-risk areas with at least 13 under “enemy control.” …. “
Here’s a .pdf version of the story to show what it looked like when I read it.
A couple of comments:
1) Re: the first four words of the story – according to my math, 41 per cent of Afghanistan is categorized as being under Taliban control or at high risk of attack on this map (146/356). Reuters appears to be mighty generous when it comes to rounding up percentages.
2) Heaven forbid we should see a “glass is half-full” headline once in a while, like:
“97 Per Cent of Afghanistan Not Under Taliban Control”
“Almost 60 Per Cent of Afghanistan Faces Medium, Low Risk of Taliban Attack”
But in both cases, I guess that wouldn’t sell papers, would it?