Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism, Etc.: Journalistic Ethics, Codes of

Links to examples of codes of Journalist Ethics. Good stuff, am now wondering whether there is more to being a 'professional journalist' than adherence to the code. I presume there would be, maybe on the technical aspect. Which still does not answer the question why bloggers ought to be put on a lower runk than journalist. *Mr Fluffy takes a big nerf bat and smacks the author around till he promises to get on with the rest of his blog*

TODAYonline: Don't Flush Away Bush's sins in wake of Koran debacle

Catchy title huh? To be fair to Mr Lobe, the title is at odds with what he wrote. And maybe because of editorial constrains and word limits he was unable to more fully substantiate and balance his piece. And I'm certain he was not attempting to deflect attention away from the Newsweek Fiasco *Mr Fluffy senses...sarcasm and snarkiness. Gets the other stuffed toys to wail on the author till he promises to be good*

Anyway, I've already done a post on the Newsweek retraction where I argued that even if the allegations were true, Newsweek was sloppy in the sense that it did not have sufficient substantiation to shield it from Executive pressure which would have only been logical in the aftermath of a very foreseeable riot. So Mr Jim Lobe's first half of his article which talks about the lengths to which Newsweek 'verified' its article can be dealt with (good summary though).

Anyway, the second half of his article which aims to shed light on an already thoroughly raked piece of 'news' that is on the legal justification of the war and whether Bush (and Blair) were unduely using governmental pressure on the Intelligence Services to 'prove' that Saddam has WMDs.

It's not a bad line of reporting but has to be tempered in light of a few other facts which were not mentioned.

1. The issue was not about whether Saddam had WMDs but how to deal with them. Note, even the Germans and French were convinced that Saddam has such weapons. But they prefered to bid their time and negotiate with the regime in an attempt to defuse the situation. In other words, do the same thing that had been done since 1991 and in contravention of 11 UN Security Council Resolutions.

And of course, I'm sure the fact that French and German companies that had contracts with the Saddam's regime regarding oil concessions and extraction had nothing to do with it.

2. Resolution 1441. I'm surprised that a self styled expert at the rise of the Neo-Cons did not raise this seeing that it is at the heart of the entire liberation/invasion of Iraq. It gave Saddam the 12th chance to play nice. He didn't. It paved the way for the invasion in accordance with International Law.

3. Intelligence Failures. Who knows what goes on in the murky depths of the various intelligence services. They didn't know about Saddam's attempt to rebuild his WMD programmes post 1st Iraq War till the defectors came along and in 1994 they had to go out there and bomb the factories. They were totally blindsided by the Parkistani and Indian Nuclear Bombs. It was conventional wisdom (which turned out to be wrong) that Saddam has WMDs. Really now.

4. British political support. Mr Gordon Brown, Blair's nemisis totally backs Mr Blair's actions during the war. He stated unrevokably that he would have done the exact same thing. The Tories went along for the ride. And the only major British political party that didn't were the Lib Dems, and they have an anti-war bias anyway. Besides which, Blair had been vindicated in an earlier report, we'll just have to wait and see how those revealed minutes play out.

There is an interesting parallel in the manner in which the Bush Administration handling of the Iraq War and the Newsweek printing of the Koran accusation.

1. Bush was willing to believe the worst of Saddam in light of the a decade of deception and prior attempts at restarting his WMD programmes. Newsweek was willing to believe the worst of the administration and army post Guantanamo Bay and Abu Grahib and oh, their unnamed source "a senior US Governmental Official". Bush had those defectors I suppose and the Iraqi opposition parties in exile.

2. Verfication. Bush had Resolution 1441. Newsweek had the 2 Pentagon Officials. As an aside, sometimes a no comment is just a no comment. A spade is just a spade and a cigar just a cigar.

3. Good intentions gone awry. Self explanatory.

*And finally: Beware what you ask for*

Op-ed by Tan Sai Siong, former columnist for ST and formal editor of The Business Times. I do wonder what his background his though. Might shed some light on the stuff he writes.

Still mildly miffed that even though I subscribe to the print version, I have only get a 50% discount on the online version. Bah...The Economist gives it to me free and has an archive plus some exclusive columns. *Mr Fluffy listlessly hits the author with the nerf bat, he's getting bored too*

The first assertion he makes gives you a terrible inkling of what's to follow. He asserts that there is a 'vocal, well-connected minority with fashionably liberal ideas that keeps harping' on civil liberties nevermind the economic prosperity. Seriously though, labelling liberty fashionable in the degoratory sense of the word does a massive disservice to the age old idea that we know what's best of ourselves and we ought to be the sole determinant of our happiness as long as it is not at the expense of others.

This has been the basis of Revolutions whether secular (French, American, Lebannon) or religious (the entire Reformation/Counter Reformation leading to the treaty of Westphalia and the allowance of private worship i.e. your lord or mistress will not determine your religion for you). So simply dismissing it as a vocal minority is unfair to the extent that the majority of us desire it one form or another.

Anyway, since the writer conflates the three issues into one (the other two being that Singapore is unfun nevermind that things actually work and Singaporeans being unhappy regardless of what the government does), and I fear carpal tunnel syndrome if I attempt to dissect the purported causal link between then, we take it as a given and move on. *Mr Fluffy nods approvingly, he wants his tea*

Anyway, the columnist thinks that there is a 'magic stone' in which one can cure all three ills. I would prefer to use the word magic bullet but Mr Fluffy thinks that is too violent. Or maybe the latin word panacea but Mr Fluffy thinks that's only because I'm some pompous elitist vocal liberal minority. The proposal that the writer proposes is unfortunately a 'straw-man argument' i.e. an deliberately weak argument set up simply for the sake of tearing down.

So it's the same old song again, strikes and demonstrations bad because people are immature and they will cause problems blah blah. And then he 'supports' for all sorts of reasons just so his article has a semblence of humour etc.

It's sad because they really isn't any substance or substantiation to his article, 'for giggles' it may be.
1. There is a huge difference between strikes and demonstrations.

2. They need not necessarily be violent. Ye gods, the South Koreans have them and they don't seem to have too many problems

3. Things, times, nations and people change. The situation as existed 40 years ago are not similar to the situation today. If we toss our hands in the air and persist in believing that we haven't got more rational or politically aware then we are seriously in dire straits. It would mean that the decades or National Education and education in general have been for naught.

Yes, we do haev a first class economy, so why shouhld not our political system ought o move in tandem. Case in point, every nation with a GDP per capita of $15,000 is a liberal democracy (except for Furthermore, a political party exists to carry out what the people want (within certain limits) and grateful as I am to the existing one, if any party goes on a downward spiral why should what they have done in the past make us utterly beholden to them. This is why even the PAP is in the process of reinventing itself.

4. Let's talk about the fundamental principles. Even if strikes and demonstrations can get abused (as anything could including electric toothbrushes =P), we need to ask on balance whether it is better to be with them or without. The right to demonstrate is a poltical right governed by politic liberties in an acknowledgment that the ballot may not always be enough. And it's also a good way to spend your holidays at times. As it is, it may not be the demonstration itself that is important but the right to do so because it acknowledges that right and the intrinsic acknowledgment of the worth of its citizens.

*Mr Fluffy loses his patience and starts waving the tranquiliser dart around. The author gets the hint.*



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