Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reuters and self-censorship

Reuters correspondent Parisa Hafezi has written literally hundreds of stories about Iran's nuclear program.  In next to none of them, does she acknowledge that scientists at the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have concluded that Iran has engaged in all aspects of developing a nuclear bomb.  Rather, the Reuters' reporter is bent on obfuscating the matter, characterizing the conflict as merely a he said, she said dispute between two equally credible partisans:
The West accuses Iran of covertly trying to develop the means to produce nuclear bombs with its uranium enrichment program. Iran, the world's No. 5 crude oil exporter, says its nuclear facilities are part of a peaceful energy program and it would retaliate for any attack on them.
Hafezi is based in Tehran with 16 Reuters employees and according to this story, "the Reuters offices are under constant surveillance and have experienced several break-ins; staffers are convinced that e-mails and telephone lines are bugged".

Hafezi is also reported to have "endured beatings, interrogations and raids on her office and home for critical reporting [of the Iranian regime]".

If these accounts are true, Hafezi and Reuters clearly fear reprisals for any perceived failure to toe the Iranian government line in the agency's coverage of the country's nuclear weapons program.

While we sympathize with Hafezi's plight, Reuters should be informing readers that its reporting in Iran is subject to self-censorship due to concerns for the safety of their staffers there.

Self-censoring, in this case, appears to be a reflection of Reuters correspondents' instincts for self-preservation.

Failure to disclose that self-censorship is unethical and a reflection of Reuters instincts for corporate preservation.

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