Understanding Afghanistan through a journalist’s eyes

Understanding Afghanistan through a journalist’s eyes

Author: Lindsey Hilsum|Posted: 7:32 pm on 18/08/09
Category: World News Blog | Tags: Afghanistan/ Afghanistan election/ British army
Journalists and soldiers have very different ways of looking at the world.

Journalists question everything; soldiers accept the task assigned by politicians. Journalists stand back to see how what’s happening fits into the big picture; soldiers set a limited goal and make it happen. Journalists are sceptics; soldiers have to believe in the rightness of their cause.

Military press officers are tasked to promote “good news stories”, and seem puzzled that journalists don’t make that distinction – a story is true or untrue, new or old, interesting or boring, not good or bad.

When I asked Colonel Greville Bibby, Deputy Commander of Task Force Helmand, whether it was possible to win in Afghanistan’s most troubled province, he replied, “We’ve got to believe it’s doable because there’d be no point in being here if we didn’t.”


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Twaddle. This is cliched krap and Lindsey Hilsum needs to have a word with herself. Memo to LH- the only classification of stories that journos who wish to keep their job make is whether it leads, comes in last or gets spiked. You do not puzzle the military nor do you possess any great insight denied to us; the wiser media handlers had your measure long ago.

Journalists are as mission focused and biased as the rest of us, probably more so as they are invariably brutal individualists. The trick to handling them is to work out what the mission is - usually self-promotion. If it isn't, the journo often provides a valuable alternative opinion and intelligence source, whatever their world view, and is to be greatly welcomed for that.
I rather suspect that anyone with the slightest interest in history will have huge doubts about what we are trying to do in Afghanistan. I also suspect that the will of the British people will wilt before that of the British Army.

This week it was revealed for the first time that American citizens against the Afghanistan Operation outnumber fellow Americans who approve. No doubt now that Obama has a limited time to achieve success. Forget 30 years or 40 years, the only years that count are the next two.

As for the journalists, they will not decide anything.
Yup. Once the Afg Army is up to essential task of guarding the pipeline we will head for the exits well before the next presidential election. In time honoured tradition the septics will "declare victory and bring the boys home".
This could be their Hippocratic oath but I think the reality is more of a hypocritic oath....idealism just doesn't keep the shareholders happy at the end of the day.


I _______ In obedience to the dictates of my own conscience vow to serve the public with news and information as free of bias and distortion as is within my skill to do so.

I will strive to bring balance, depth and perspective to the work I offer, so it may enlighten and inform.

I will at all times remain mindful of the distinction between opinion and journalism and make it clear in which voice I am speaking.

I will honor the public trust, by refusing to use my influence as a journalist to advance the propaganda of governments, organizations or advertisers.

I will protect the secrecy of my confidential sources to ensure the public’s right to know is not thwarted by conspiracies of silence.

I vow not to libel another person’s character, reputation or legacy.

I affirm my commitment to this noble public trust in concord with all journalists of goodwill and integrity, for the betterment of the communities that I serve.

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