The Nation Responds, Sets Example

Sep 2nd, 2011 | By | Category: The Nation

The Nation logoToday we received a response from The Nation regarding our post of 1st September, ‘The Nation Still Publishing Taliban Propaganda‘. We appreciate the quick response from The Nation which clarifies that these articles were a result of the website being hacked. We believe the response from The Nation deserves special mention here because following our post they took the time to review the copies of the print edition to ensure that this propaganda was not being published in the print editions of Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore each, and they are also taking measures to prevent hackers from accessing their website in the future which displays an excellent level of professionalism that is rare.

It should also be noted that this is not the first time that The Nation has corrected an error after it was brought to their attention. On 16th August we noticed an incorrect photo being attached to an article on the website, and it was quickly corrected after the mistake was brought to their attention. As we said at the time, “mistakes happen”. This is understandable. Unfortunately, we are also living in a time when some groups will use illegal methods such as hacking websites in order to spread propaganda. As is clarified in the response from The Nation, this was the case with the articles by Zabihullah Mehsud which were not approved by The Nation and they are taking action to correct this.

No media group is 100 per cent perfect or accurate all the time. The most trustworthy ones, though, are the ones that are willing to admit and learn from their mistakes. By not only correcting the issue, but honestly and transparently investigating and offering a public clarification, The Nation deserves to be commended for setting an excellent example to all media groups.

Dear Pak Media Watch

Thank you and Mr Rumi and Ms Isfahani [Editors Note: Raza Rumi and Farahnaz Ispahani are not members of the PMW team, but we thank them for helping bring this matter to attention.] for bringing this post to my attention. I have gone through this PMW comment, as well as the previous one mentioned in the introduction, which I was not aware of at the time that it was published, roughly a year ago. Having looked into the matter, I am in a position to reply and address the concerns raised.

To begin, there are most certainly items posted with the byline “Zabihullah Mehsud” on our website. The last one is dated 28 August, 2011. Having carefully gone through all three (KHI, ISB and LHE) editions of The Nation’s print edition on the 27th, 28th and 29th of August, 2011 neither that news nor that byline has been published on our pages, nor would we normally have carried it in the manner it was displayed on the website. After checking the source of the news uploaded, it is with regret that we confirm that our website has been hacked and due to the gaps in our security this post and others like it, carrying the “Zabihullah Mehsud” byline, have not been identified or caught by our anti-hacking software. We apologise for this unfortunate incident and for the matter displayed and the inconvenience caused to our readers. The process of upgrading our site has begun; an emergency session was called at the head office of The Nation with our website managers and an advanced security system for is being put into development immediately. The news items linked in the PMW post along with all others archived with the same byline are being removed as I write this.

As you said in your post of September 2010, “…it would not be unusual for a reporter to quote a Taliban spokesman,…” as is the practice in The Nation, Reuters, Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, and AFP, among others – all of whom regularly reference the Taliban spokesman (Zabihullah Mehsud) in their reports. The parts added directly from the Taliban website, which do not appear in our print edition, are also extensions of the hacking problem, that this PMW post has helped identify.

In response to your question regarding The Nation’s thoughts on “…the suicide bombing outside a Quetta mosque that killed at least 11 people on Wednesday…” please refer to our editorial, to be published tomorrow (3 September, 2011), which I hope will satisfy your curiosity. It may interest you to know that regarding the hacking of our site, we will also be carrying an editorial in The Nation to be published on the 4th of September, 2011.

Rameeza Majid Nizami

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