Monday, September 5, 2011

Reuters guilty

Hmm, let's see... In the fifteen months since operatives of the Islamist group İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH) attempted to lynch Israeli naval commandos boarding the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, Reuters correspondents have gone from describing the vessel as "an aid ship", to a ship which "led an aid flotilla", to the more equivocal but still biased, a ship "which the crew said was delivering aid to Gaza".

In hundreds of stories on the incident, Reuters has, to our knowledge, never reported that there was no humanitarian aid on board the Mavi Marmara.  Nor has the media behemoth ever issued a formal correction associated with its many false references to the vessel as "an aid ship".

These reporting failures represent clear violations of the company's Trust Principles, Handbook, and almost anyone's standards of professional journalism.  Yet Reuters refuses to set the record straight.  Why?

Because to acknowledge that they had deliberately misrepresented the facts in an effort to peddle a heavily biased editorial agenda and then disguised those misrepresentations in subsequent stories, would almost certainly result in immediate termination for many correspondents and editors at Reuters.

Similarly, it would expose Reuters as a propagandistic partisan in the Arab-Israeli conflict and subject the company to stakeholder claims of misconduct.

It would be akin for example, to executives at British Petroleum publicly acknowledging that they had behaved irresponsibly and in violation of company policy leading up to the Gulf oil spill and then sought to cover-up their misconduct.

Regrettably, when faced with a loss of income, livelihood or worse, defense mechanisms kick in and corporations and their employees frequently abandon their ethical commitments to stakeholders and the greater public.

We'll continue to remind Reuters of those commitments.

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