June 16, 2024

The Value of Media Neutrality

The news that an AP reporter traveled in company with Taliban terrorists and filmed the execution of two Afghan women indicates that it can.  Many people are pretty upset about the AP reporter’s role in the murderous event and not without some justification.

Journalists are supposed to tell the story without bias or agenda.  Or that’s what they tell cub reporters in Journalism 101.  As we all know, reality is far different.  Whether from fear, as in most non-western nations, or out of voluntary allegiance to an ideology, as is too often the case in the U.S., many reporters put their opinions into the story, despite their profession’s ideals.

At times it’s hard to blame them.  Reporters see things that most of us don’t.  Citizens usually consume only the sanitized version of the news after the military, police, and media clean it up for us.  It must be difficult for them to maintain their objectivity at times.

But can being a neutral observer be taken too far?

The truth is that there’s a time when even the most reasoned objectivity has to be cast aside and sides chosen.  Wondering if the AP hasn’t in fact done so, Rusty Shackleford says:

In the context of this blog it is clear that the photos are meant to show what horrible evil we are fighting. But when the the AP chooses to use value neutral terms to provide context for the photos they cross a line into a moral relativism which is more than just unpatriotic, it’s downright disgusting!

Instead of calling the Taliban what they are–primae faciea war criminals & illegal combatants–they simply label them militants. Worse, they allow the Taliban to choose the words to describe the horrible murders of two women calling it an execution.

And, the more I think about it, this suggests the AP is worse than al Jazeera. Remember when we all were outraged about al Jazeera showing snuff videos produced by terrorists? This terrorist snuff video was filmed by the AP.

Confession:  I’ve not seen the video.  I don’t need those images rattling about in my head. 

Given what little that’s known about the killings, from the reporter’s perspective I can understand keeping the tape rolling, if for no other reason than we don’t know anything about his motivations.  Did Rahmatullah Naikzad know what was going to happen?  Did his hosts set up the event for him?  Was he an unwitting dupe, an ambitious fool, or an active participant in the murders?  Don’t know.  We may never know.  But we do know that he was one man, probably unarmed, in the company of killers.  It’s hard to blame him for his inaction.

As Rusty says, it may be a greater offense that the AP doggedly refuses to use the words that would identify the Talibani thugs for what they are:  cold-blooded murderers without redeeming qualities.  Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have that truth told, if only once?

Small wonder the AP wants to control bloggers’ use of their material in articles such as thing one.  What organization would want to have its own work used to damn it?


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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