Posts Tagged ‘Reuters’

Western Media: Reliable Source…When Convenient

Monday, July 4th, 2011

In a curious turn of events during the past week, the Western media has suddenly become the most reliable source for information about the war on terror. Beginning with a Reuters (UK) report that the US is refusing to leave Shamsi airbase, media groups have begun once again pointing to American media as the paragon of truth, when these same media groups at other times term the American media as untrustworthy propaganda.

An article from the American Miami Herald newspaper claims that CIA is still launching drone strikes from Shamsi airbase. This article was dutifully quoted by Pakistani newspapers as proof of “the desire to please the US which is causing ministers of the same government making apparently contradictory statements”.

But this same Pakistani newspaper regularly publishes articles which claim that “the American media has always supported the political establishment” and publishes misinformation.

The historical precedents of White House “lies” in the chronicles of US military aggressions against nations all over the world are incredibly numerous and documented. The American media has always supported the political establishment. Indeed, we must not forget that there has never been credible evidence of Afghan or bin Laden’s involvement in New York’s 9/11 attack. For all practical analysis, 9/11 seems to be an inside job, a Bush administration’s pretext for the Iraqi and Afghan invasion – the American determined global policy doctrine to extend its capitalist corporate interests all over the world.

This is not unusual. Western media is regularly termed by anchors and journalists as propaganda, mouthpiece for American hegemony, and unreliable when it carries reports that are critical of Pakistan or do not fit a particular narrative of US aggression. But when the reports support this narrative, suddenly the Western media becomes the most trusted source.

A new report in American media quotes a ‘prominent former militant commander’ who says that the Pakistani military is supporting militant groups. As usual, this source only spoke “on condition that his name, location and other personal details not be revealed”. Will the media groups that accept anonymous claims in Western media about Shamsi airbase accept anonymous claims in Western media about military complicity with militants also?

In both cases, the Western media reports are based on anonymous sources that are contradicted by other sources who are willing to speak openly. Also, in both cases there are reasons to be skeptical of the claims of these anonymous sources – would a militant commander not want to sow doubt between US and Pakistani militaries as a strategy to ‘divide and conquer’? Somehow the American journalist did not seem to think of this obvious problem.

Both claims could be true, and both claims could be false. We do not have any proof at this point with which to judge the claims of these unknown sources other than their own word. But now knowing who these sources are, how can we accept their word only? We simply cannot know if one source or the other is telling the truth or playing a propaganda game with the media. That does not mean that we should accept the ones that fit our pre-determined beliefs while dismissing the other because it is inconvenient.

Media Misreports Proposed Changes to American Aid

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Recent reports of possible cuts to American aid have been in the headlines this week after a committee in the American Congress proposed some budget changes that affect US aid policy. As these proposed changes directly affect aid to Pakistan, this is a legitimate news story. But if we examine the way media groups are reporting the story, it appears that there may be some problems.

An American political newspaper described the proposed changes as a request for greater transparency and accountability in how the Congress is spending American tax payer’s money.

Legislative language withholds three-quarters of the funds until the Defense and State Department come up with a report to Congress on how the money is being used and what metrics are being used to measure progress by Pakistan in rooting out terrorist and Taliban elements inside its borders.

These may be simply accounting details intended to prevent corruption, but this is not how the proposed changes to American aid are being characterised by the media.

On Friday, Dawn misreported proposed changes to American aid in an article titled, ‘Obama to address Pakistan’s concerns’. The Dawn article includes the following claim:

Earlier this week, lawmakers proposed linking 75 per cent of US assistance to Pakistan to its performance in the war against terror.

Dawn is not the only media group to sensationalise the story by characterising it as a punishment or another example of the ‘do more’ mantra. On Thursday, Dunya reported that ‘US Congress seeks to axe Pakistan’s aid by 75%’.

The US Congress Appropriations committee recommended a 75 percent reduction in the US aid to Pakistan.

This claim is incorrect. The American Congressmen did not simply recommend reduction in US aid to Pakistan, but asked only for greater accountability and transparency in how the money is spent. If the money is not being spent properly, then it would not be granted. Looked at this way, the proposal is an anti-corruption measure in the US Congress.

To its credit, The News (Jang Group) reported the story more accurately:

The panel approved the $649 billion in defense spending bill on a voice vote and forwarded it to the full House for consideration, expected later this month. The Senate is still working on its version of the bill. The two houses must pass the same bill before sending it to Obama for his signature.

However it should be noted that The News report was actually taken directly from a report by Reuters without giving attribution. Additionally it should also be noted that The News changed the headline from the original Reuters piece:

‘House panel backs $649 billion in defense spending’

To a different headline that gives a story about the American political process and accountability a different meaning:

House panel puts bar on US aid to Pakistan

The report published by The News may be the most accurate of the stories quoted here, but it should be asked why did Jang Group choose to change the original headline?

Many media groups are reporting that American aid is being ‘barred’ or ‘cut’ when careful examination of the facts reveals that the American Congress appears to be including additional accountability and transparency measures that affect the US White House, not Pakistan. This is an important difference that should be clarified for the people. Unfortunately, the reporting appearing in the media is not clarifying the issue, it is confusing it.

BREAKING: 21 International Media Organizations Write to Government About The Nation

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

BREAKING: A group of 21 international media organizations has written a letter to Minister of Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira expressing concern about The Nation.

The letter is in response to an article by Kaswar Klasra in The Nation earlier this month that – with no evidence or factual support – accused a fellow journalist of being a spy. This group letter to the Minister comes following public condemnation from Committee to Protect Journalists and an appeal from the editor of The Wall Street Journal.

The letter is signed by Editors from ABC News, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, The Guardian, BBC, The Independent, CNN, Al Jazeera, The Economist, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, France Info, McClatchy Newspapers, National Public Radio, Reuters, The New York Times, TIME, Newsweek, The Times, Radio France Internationale, and The Wall Street Journal.

The letter reads as follows:

TO: Qamar Zaman Kaira,
Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan
4th Floor, Cabinet Block, Pakistan Secretariat, Islamabad

RE: Nation article about Wall Street Journal reporter

16 November 2009

Respected Minister Kaira,

We are writing to register our strong concern at a recent development that has caused alarm among international media organizations working in Pakistan.

On November 5, The Nation newspaper published a front page article accusing Matthew Rosenberg, a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, of working for the C.I.A., Israeli intelligence and the U.S. military contractor Blackwater.

Mr. Rosenberg is a respected journalist of high standing. Not only was the article unsubstantiated, it critically compromised his security and raised questions about whether he can return to Pakistan to work safely in the future.

The article also has broader implications. These are difficult times for all journalists in Pakistan. Our employees already face an array of threats, including violence and kidnapping, as they strive to provide timely and accurate coverage. Now those risks have been needlessly increased.

We strongly support press freedoms across the world. But this irresponsible article endangered the life of one journalist and could imperil others. It is particularly upsetting that this threat has come from among our own colleagues.

We recognize that courageous Pakistani journalists routinely face greater dangers than their international counterparts. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, five Pakistani journalists have been killed in the past 12 months alone. And we are heartened that several Pakistani media organizations have denounced The Nation’s story.

But we are also concerned that an incident of this kind – tarring a foreign reporter as a spy – could occur again. We ask the government of Pakistan to take note of this story and to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of all media personnel in future.

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