Editors have no right to imperil our troops

#1
There have been numerous articles of individuals (usually civies) pontificating on the actions of the gents in the NOTW video. Many threads on this site have picked up on them and opinions have been vented and discussed.

Whilst not being an apologist, this article seems to have a much better handle on the situation itself and the furore it has caused. Those who have been following the other threads will see some familiar names.


nuff' said

Article by Nigel Farndale - link:Sunday Telegraph Opinion

It has been a good week for press freedom; an even better one for Andy Coulson, the editor of the News of the World. Following his scoop about the British soldiers beating up Iraqi rioters, he has been clearing space on his shelves for the awards that will surely be coming his way.
Other newspapers have been wallowing in his reflected glory. In a paroxysm of self-congratulation, Roy Greenslade of The Daily Telegraph hailed the story as an example of "us - the press - doing our job responsibly. For the good of the people of Britain and Iraq". Martin Samuel of The Times went further, characterising the British Army as a bunch of cowardly thugs out to "maim and kill".
With these two heavyweights puffing and blowing as they led the charge, the British squaddies never stood a chance.
But I do wonder whether the decision to run the story was really as noble as Mr Greenslade suggests. An unnamed "whistleblower" approached the News of the World wanting cash for a video.
The editor got out his chequebook and then had to decide whether a few extra sales were worth risking the lives of British soldiers in Iraq. Bravely, he decided they were. He then claimed he was running the story "with regret", as if he had no choice. Of course he had a choice.
He could have handed the video over to the Ministry of Defence. An investigation would have been conducted. Anyone found guilty of unlawful abuse would have been punished.
Instead, the NoW video has become a propaganda tool for those who wish us ill in Iraq. The al-Jazeera news channel has been showing it around the clock. In Basra there have been demonstrations and protest marches - and the Iraqi Council there is refusing to cooperate with British forces.
There is now also a danger that the publication of the Abu Ghraib pictures will get mixed up in the NoW video controversy. This would be a travesty. One story is about young squaddies making mistakes under pressure. The other is about, well, Lord only knows what it's about, but it is not about the same thing.
Be in no doubt, as a consequence of "us - the press - doing our job responsibly", British soldiers are more vulnerable in Iraq now than they were a week ago. Mr Coulson may even have signed the death warrant of the next British soldier killed there. I hope he can sleep at night.All this press cynicism and sanctimony puts me in mind of a diary entry Alan Bennett made in 1982. "Not English I feel now. This is just where I happen to have been put down." He was referring to the jingoistic response of the British press to the Falklands war.
And he had a point. It still makes me shiver to think The Sun could report the deaths of 1,000 Argentinian sailors with a single word: "Gotcha!" But what a contrast with today.
The News of the World also reported its scoop with a single word: "Brutal!" It knew it could vilify British troops without losing readers. Indeed, the vilification would gain some, just as the glorification of British troops gained readers for The Sun back in 1982. If you want to know whether a war is popular or not, trust the instincts of a tabloid editor.
Perhaps cheap populism explains the antipathy of Mr Greenslade and Mr Samuel towards our troops in Iraq. But what about their wilful determination not to see things from the Army perspective?
Because there is another way of looking at that video, if you can ignore the nauseating commentary of the camera-man - the "Oh yes! Oh Yes! You're gonna get it. Yes, naughty little boys."
When that video was filmed two years ago there were daily riots in southern Iraq. The British soldiers were fatigued. The restraint they showed in the face of intolerable provocation was, nevertheless, impressive. But having rioters taunt you is one thing. Having them launch mortar shells is quite another.
Other footage filmed that day shows that shortly before the soldiers charged the rioters, a shell exploded in the compound. A "snatch squad" grabbed the ringleaders and roughed them up.
The idea, presumably, was to send a "strong message" back to the other rioters. They went too far, as people do when adrenaline is coursing through their bodies. Then again, well done them, for not firing on the rioters - who were, after all, trying to kill them. The Americans would have. Every other army in the world would have.
Some 80,000 British troops have been deployed in Iraq over the past three years. I think it a credit to them that, in all that time, with all that provocation, there have been only six serious allegations of brutality made against them.
We expect them to serve in appalling conditions and risk their lives on our behalf. They deserve to be cut some slack. I am not saying that the video footage should have gone unreported indefinitely, I just cannot see why it was necessary to show it now when the situation in Iraq is so volatile.
There is precedence for such a delay. In 1944 the government asked the British press to hold off reporting on the V2 bombs that were devastating parts of London. The press agreed, and the Germans had no idea whether their rockets were either effective or accurate.
A final thought: the main reason why British newspapers decided not to publish the Danish cartoons seems to have been that they did not want to put their staff in danger. Well, fair enough, but shouldn't that consideration extend to British soldiers? Andy Coulson doesn't think so. Shame on him for that.
 
#2
A fair comment, always good to see the press getting moralistic about itself, but would it be churlish to observe that it's been written since the public reaction of "It's old news..." has been noted?
 
#3
Maybe not D_B - it's the first edition of the Sunday press since that NotW edition, so the author may not have been able to get any column inches before today.
 
#4
Juvenal said:
Maybe not D_B - it's the first edition of the Sunday press since that NotW edition, so the author may not have been able to get any column inches before today.
True, though it's rare for "opinion"-style comment to go against public opinion! :D

Edited because I can't speel and to observe what a cynical old cow I'm becoming! :lol:
 
#5
Good find P-Y. I have only chanced across the NOTW once on ops, and it was also in Iraq.

We had 2 journos from that pitiful rag attached to our BG. Both were exactly as I would expect - unshaven, grimy and faintly sleazy. You wouldn't have left your kids with them, put it that way.

Anyway, they seemed cheerful enough and promptly enconsed themselves in our ambulance, coincidentally near the radiantly gorgeous female Medic. Soon after crossing the border, we put in a small tactical pause just N of SAFWAN, and were soon surrounded by curious Iraqis. One small boy approached and - predictably - was handed a packet of boilies by one of the CR2 boys.

Boy goes off, sits down and eats sweets. Happy as Larry.

Enter our fearless seekers of truth from the NOTW. The really vile one picks the boy up and takes him round the back of the nearest CR2, then throws stones at the boy at a range of about 2 metres until the kid starts crying.

SNAP!

This picture was published all over the place. I was literally just behind the photographer's head when he took it.



You may remember it - I wonder if Andy Coulson does as well?
 
#7
DozyBint said:
Darth_Doctrinus said:
I was literally just behind the photographer's head when he took it.
And you didn't throw a small rock at it? Bloody parasites...
Well I wish I had done now! :)

At the time, I pulled this little maggot to one side (I can look pretty fearsome when I screw my face up and growl) and asked him in no uncertain terms what he was doing. He said 'It's all about composition, the picture that sells the story. Who wants to see happy raghead kids?' Word perfect quote.

Actually, I nearly shot one of them outside Az Zubayr, but that's a who-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-l-e different story! ;)
 
#8
Darth_Doctrinus said:
He said 'It's all about composition, the picture that sells the story. Who wants to see happy raghead kids?' Word perfect quote.
The truth will out, eh?

Darth_Doctrinus said:
Actually, I nearly shot one of them outside Az Zubayr, but that's a who-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-l-e different story! ;)
Damnit, Darth! "Nearly" isn't good enough! :lol:
 
#9
Oh please let us see this published. "Racist NOTW Journo in child abuse picture faking scandal"... would that be reporting it responsibly?

Or would it put too many journo's in danger?
 
#10
Darth_Doctrinus said:
Good find P-Y. I have only chanced across the NOTW once on ops, and it was also in Iraq.

We had 2 journos from that pitiful rag attached to our BG. Both were exactly as I would expect - unshaven, grimy and faintly sleazy. You wouldn't have left your kids with them, put it that way.

Anyway, they seemed cheerful enough and promptly enconsed themselves in our ambulance, coincidentally near the radiantly gorgeous female Medic. Soon after crossing the border, we put in a small tactical pause just N of SAFWAN, and were soon surrounded by curious Iraqis. One small boy approached and - predictably - was handed a packet of boilies by one of the CR2 boys.

Boy goes off, sits down and eats sweets. Happy as Larry.

Enter our fearless seekers of truth from the NOTW. The really vile one picks the boy up and takes him round the back of the nearest CR2, then throws stones at the boy at a range of about 2 metres until the kid starts crying.

SNAP!

This picture was published all over the place. I was literally just behind the photographer's head when he took it.



You may remember it - I wonder if Andy Coulson does as well?

the sad thing is will the little boy remember the kindness of British soldiers when he grows up or the little sh*ts who made him cry, for a few quid ? :twisted: :evil:
 
#11
And don't forget these scum, photographers and reporters, who grab the moral high ground and say the public have a right to know 'the truth'.

I think soldiers on ops (or anywhere else for that matter) should use their 'squaddiematics' to capture pictorial evidence of how cushy the jernos actually get it and their sorded techniques of gathering 'the truth'. They could be posted here or sent to rival publications. After all, the public have the right to know.
 
#12
I wonder if a link to this thread could be promuglated to other papers. Darth, you willing to back it up? If not I'll climb back into my SLAM.
 
#13
Having seen a bunch of media today at JHF, I wish I had had my camera on me for they were the biggest bunch of Walts you've ever met. Fat, slimy and unshaven, I had to bite my tongue to be honest.

All for releasing the NOTW photo story, they deserve to suffer.
 
#14
So, A picture speaks a thousand untruths. D-D, this is not a knee jerk reaction, I'm quite certain that if I was in your position I would have given this story to the competition. However, I doubt it would get out as the competition probably did similar. As we all know, It's not about people, it's about money.
 
#15
floppyjocky said:
It's not about people, it's about money.
Correct. And I'll be damned if I'll sink to their level.

That said, if any NOTW-hating journos want the story, it's yours for a few beers and a top night out in town... :)

Only kidding, PTP...
 
#16
My God, you don't realise how cocooned you are as a civvy. At least being on here has opened my eyes somewhat.

To second the above post, we need more 'evidence' of journo's behaving badly. Permission to point it out to the socialists and respect students that stick their damn posters up everywhere...
 
#17
D-D you're getting soft in your old age.

I would have found the kids father and handed the journo over to him saying "Do as you please with him--we don't care".

Iraqi justice would have taken a swift swipe (pun intended) at the journo.
 
#18
Oh I think we can get some column inches for that D2 .

Looking at the "Who's on now" bit , there appear to be reps from C4 and the Beeb.

Fancy a story? :twisted:
 
#19
many thanks for that D-D

my first reaction was utter shock, but after a few seconds of rememberance of what journo's were like when i was Press Officer it all came reeling back! (remember the last thing my BBC Scotland contact said to me when she found out i was leaving "so you can dish the dirt now?)
 

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