ICE blogs

August 17, 2013

Ethical Spaces: What Leveson Missed

The 10th anniversary conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics, to be held at the Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1OJ, on 25 October 2013, will explore some of the many crucial ethical issues which went missing during the Leveson Inquiry.

One of the keynotes is to be given by Jake Lynch, Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney and a Senior Research Fellow of the School of Communication at the University of Johannesburg. His paper is titled ‘Reporting conflict: The critical, realist approach’.

A selection of papers given at the conference will be published in a special conference issue of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics.

• Cost of attendance: £65; students £10. For more information contact Dr Fiona Thompson, Director, The Institute of Communication Ethics, 69 Glenview Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire BD18 4AR; email f.thompson287@gmail.com.

Corporate media accused over Private Manning

Edward Wasserman, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, has criticised the corporate media for failing to call for the release of the WikiLeaks whistleblower, Private Bradley Manning.

He says: ‘Bradley Manning was a great source. His information was solid and truthful. There was no fabrication, there was no subterfuge. The world’s best news organisations believed the material was of immense public value. So now he goes to jail, perhaps for life, and the media stand in silence? No mainstream news organisation, even those that benefited directly from his leaks, has had the effrontery to demand he be freed.’

The ferocity of the Obama administration’s attack on Manning and WikiLeaks had been ‘withering’. According to Wasserman, since the government pressed ahead with charges of ‘aiding the enemy’, Manning technically faced the death penalty. This was the first time in 150 years that anybody had been charged with aiding the enemy for leaking information to the press for general publication. On 30 July, Manning was convicted of multiple Espionage Act violations – but cleared of the most serious ‘aiding the enemy’ charge.

Wasserman continued: ‘The world’s most powerful news media agreed, and turned Manning’s leaks into riveting stories. The WikiLeaks material was vetted and worked over, and ultimately used extensively by the Guardian of London, The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and Spain’s El Pais. The materials continue to reverberate and, as recently as March 2013, the Guardian and the BBC spent 15 months on developing a sensational story about sectarian death squads in Iraq. It was prompted by reports Manning provided in which shocked US soldiers described seeing Iraqi detainees who’d been tortured by their countrymen.

‘So if they did right and the world benefited, did Manning do wrong? On what grounds can they say – as former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger have – that they would help defend WikiLeaks boss Assange if the US charges him, while they won’t lift a finger to protest Manning’s incarceration?’

Yet, on 1 August 2013, after Manning was found guilty of 20 counts relating to the transmission of state secrets, the Guardian’s editorial spoke out strongly in his support. It said the conviction was not fair ‘because American law in this area is not fair’ – not allowing a public interest defence. The editorial ended condemning ‘the brutal punishment of one fragile young man’.

• See http://www.mediaethicsmagazine.com/index.php/browse-back-issues/145-spring-2013/3998874-242-wasserman-preview-waiving-private-manning.

Initiative for media pluralism

The European Initiative for Media Pluralism (EIMP) has drawn together around 100 civil society organisations, media, and professional bodies to call for legislative actions to protect media pluralism in Europe.

UK supporters include the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, the National Union of Journalists and the TUC. Organisations in eight other European countries support the EIMP so far: Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania. Granville Williams, UK Coordinator, stressed that campaign was calling for:

* effective legislation to avoid concentration of ownership in the media and advertisement sectors;
* guaranteed independence of media supervisory bodies from political power and influence;
* definition of conflict of interests to avoid media moguls occupying high political office;
* clearer European monitoring systems to check up regularly the health and independence of the media in member states.

Williams said: ‘Editorial content will remain independent from legislation. The campaign only asks the European Commission to take legislative action concerning mainly media ownership.’

The campaign is aiming to collect the 1 million signatures needed for actions to be taken by the European Commission. For more information contact Granville Williams at freepress@cpbf.org.uk .

Union backs ‘No more Page 3′ campaign

Filed under: Uncategorized, Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:04 pm

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, has added its support to the ‘No More Page 3′ campaign - with a flashmob invasion of its recent annual conference in Liverpool. Dancers, dressed in campaign t-shirts, surprised 2,000 delegates with a flashmob performance of the campaign’s dance. To the tune of YMCA, 30 dancers called on the conference to support the campaign to rid the best-selling tabloid Sun of its sexist pictures of women.

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary, said: ‘We’re proud to support this campaign to end an out-of-date objectification of women. Rupert Murdoch’s claim that working class people don’t care about Page 3 is not only patronising, it is wrong. Through unions, working class people have led the way in battling sexism and campaigning for equality.’

Lisa Clarke, from No More Page 3, who led the flashmob, said: ‘It is so important that people stand up and say “no” to the sexism rife in today’s media. We believe that the objectification of women and the reduction of 50 per cent of the population to nothing but a pair of breasts has a detrimental effect on everyone. One of the places people are often exposed to these images is in the workplace, even though equality legislation outlaws similar content on posters or calendars at work. When this is in a national newspaper, it is far more difficult to object to or speak out about it and be taken seriously. People are now finally speaking out and it’s going to be very hard to ignore 1.3 million public sector workers isn’t it?’

• See http://nomorepage3.org/news/press-release-from-unison/.

Questions go missing on mysterious death of journalist

Richard Lance Keeble highlights the Obama administration’s unprecedented attacks on whistleblowers - and suggests serious questions have gone missing over the mysterious death of an investigative journalist

Michael Hastings was a brilliant American investigative journalist. It is important that you know about his life and death. He was the Rolling Stones’ reporter whose 2010 feature on Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal revealed the US Commander in Afghanistan and his officials mocking President Obama. Soon after publication of the exposé, Gen. McCrystal was forced to hand in his resignation.

On 18 June 2013, Hastings died in a mysterious car accident in Los Angeles. Let us consider the facts. An eyewitness at the scene, Jose, said Hastings’ car was travelling very fast and he heard a couple of explosions shortly before it crashed. The explosion was so intense that it took the LA County assistant coroner, Ed Winter, two days to identify the burned-beyond-recognition body of Hastings.

Later it emerged that Hastings had approached WikiLeaks attorney Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before his death claiming the FBI was investigating him. In his book The operators: The wild and terrifying inside story of America’s war in Afghanistan, Hastings reported that a former McChrystal staff member had made a death threat. ‘We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write,’ the unnamed staffer said. Hastings replied: ‘Well, I get death threats like that about once a year, so no worries.’

Could the electronics in Hastings’ new Mercedes have been remotely tampered with? Significantly, the former US National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-Terrorism, Richard Clarke, told the Huffington Post that a single-vehicle crash was ‘consistent with a car cyber attack. There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers — including the United States — know how to remotely seize control of a car’.

Equally worrying is the failure of the corporate media to follow-up any of these serious questions about Hastings’ death. It comes as the Obama administration continues its unprecedented assault on whistleblowers. Seven have been charged under the Espionage Act (1917) for alleged mishandling of classified information – and that’s more than under all past presidencies combined. For instance, Thomas Drake revealed to the press that the National Security Agency spent $1.2 billion on a contract for a data collection programme called Trailblazer when work could have been done in-house for $3 million. The NSA’s response? Drake’s home was raided at gunpoint and he was forced out of his job (although all 10 charges against him were dropped).

In January 2013, former CIA officer John C. Kiriakou who, in 2007, acknowledged that US agents were involved in torture, was jailed for 30 months (see http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/01/28/ciaw-j28.html). WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning was tortured while in custody and faced a lifetime in jail after being convicted of multiple Espionage Act violations on 30 July 2013 (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/28/bradley-manning-treatment-custody-wikileaks). And former CIA intelligence analyst Edward Snowden is being hounded by the US state for revealing secrets about mass US surveillance operations.

Yet favoured prominent US journalists (such as Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame) regularly report state secrets. Their careers are, in no way, damaged – the reverse, in fact. As Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who led the coverage of the NSA spying revelations by Edward Snowden, commented: ‘Bob Woodward has become one of America’s richest reporters, if not the richest, by obtaining and publicising classified information far more sensitive than anything WikiLeaks has ever published’ (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/10/manning-prosecution-press-freedom-woodward).
Moreover Paul Joseph Watson reports: ‘More recently, Ibragim Todashev, friend of accused Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnev, was shot in the head six times by the FBI, who initially claimed Todashev was armed but later had to admit this was a lie. Speculation has raged that Todashev was assassinated because he had knowledge about the Boston bombings which the Feds didn’t want to see the light of public scrutiny.’

So what can we learn from all of this? Let’s not be afraid to admit that conspiracies exist. There are certainly some very weird conspiracy theories out there but, at the same time, there are a lot of conspiracies that need exposing. As the secret state expands and the power and influence of the intelligence services extends into the depths of our private lives, more serious analysis of conspiracies will be needed – both by the academy and the media.

The final lessons: remember to consult the alternative media (such as those listed below) for important, critical perspectives – and crucial information missed by the mainstream. And always question the official view – as over the mysterious death of Michael Hastings.

Notes
See http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-07-09/elusive-details-michael-hastings-death
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-runaway-general-20100622?print=true
http://www.infowars.com/evidence-indicates-michael-hastings-was-assassinated/

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