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Last updated on June 7th, 2017 at 03:11 pm
Anyone up for some quick transcribing? Here’s Stephen Crittenden on Radio National this morning apparently trashing bloggers for ending Eason Jordan’s wonderful career.
UPDATE. David Shaw of the LA Times joins the mainstream herd denouncing bloggers as … a herd.
UPDATE II. And here it is; a rush transcript, courtesy of swift-fingered reader Renate Britton. Crittenden is interviewing Rony Abovitz:
SC: Rony, good morning and welcome to Radio National Breakfast.
RA: Good morning.
SC: Now you were in Davos last month attending an off-the record panel which was addressed among other people by CNN’s news chief Eason Jordon, can you tell us what happened there?
RA: Well the first thing is I think there is still some dispute about the off-the record nature of it. I won’t go into that in a lot of detail but a number of people including WSJ editor thought the meeting was on the record and it was filming and it was in front of hundreds of people. So um I think three is that aspect to it.
SC: Right and did the WSJ report what happened?
RA: Yes. In fact the editor did make some quotes in he wrote something up several hours after I had completed the first post on my blog.
SC: What was said?
RA: Well the most disturbing thing from my perspective was that um sitting in the audience right across from Jordon was this concept of the United States military targeting journalists. American and foreign, and intentionally targeting them. It was the way it was originally said that was disturbing ‘cause it was said as if it was kind of a fact about to be supported by significant evidence or a report or something in great detail.
SC: And who brought that up at this session? Who raised that issue?
RA: The conversation started about reporters around the world in general dying and being killed. And then Jordon went off and talked about Iraq. He had come back from iraq several months before and I think he and a gentlemen from the BBC were talking about potentially pulling their reporters out of Iraq because it was dangerous and then he said something along the lines of it wasn’t just the insurgents or terrorists in Iraq who were killing journalists it was also the American troops and he knew of at least 12 journalists who were killed who were targeted by American troops.
SC: Now there’s no doubt that a number of journalists have been killed in Iraq and indeed a number have been killed by American forces, it all depends on what you mean by targeting.
RA: I think the question isn’t that people were killed and whether it’s a serious issue the question is whether soldiers had intentially targeted and taken aim at people they knew who wree reporters. Which is a much more serious charge than reporters in the middle of a battlefield and is killed by either side. Its different when a reporter is specifically targeted by an American troop and that raises a whole series of questions and is almost like a hard accusation against the US at that point.
SC: Indeed. There’s a passage in a book by the BBC’s Nick Gowing, called Dying to Tell the Story, in which he says there is evidence that media activity in the midst of real time fighting is now regarded by commanders as having quote “military significance�?, which justifies a firm military response to remove or at least neutralise it.
RA: I think the question I originally raised was that a disturbing one about what actually happened on the ground. In my first posting I asked a question of the BBC and CNN and of Jordon : if you have real evidence, real data to back up this question, you know produce it. Bring it in the light let us all understand what’s going on. And the most perplexing thing to me was instead of bringing forth those kind of evidence and details and backgrounds it was a series of evasions and backing up and basically a lot of spin and that was even more disturbing.
SC: OK. One of the key aspects of this story is the increasing power of webloggers as opposed to the MSM. Where did you post the story and how quickly was it picked up?
RA: I was originally invited to the forum as a technology pioneer and while I was there I was invited to be one of the people who could post on the forum’s own weblog and that’s where I first posted the story. I think it was foreignblog.org and subsequently I opened up my own site and posted reposted the same posting but it was originally to the world economic forum blog and some people started commenting about it people at the forum, and I didn’t realise it was going to take on such a global significance but it quickly caught on around the world American media jumped on it especially American bloggers and it just sort of took off like a fire.
SC: Did you have any idea that your blog would lead to the resignation of one of America’s most senior news exeuctives?
RA: No I had absolutely no idea and in fact if you read what I posted I wasn’t calling for that I was calling for some answers for some truth for some evidence and in the noise of the blog world there were some people asking the same questions as me what really happened here, what’s the bottom line, but others took the line its really about getting Jordon, let’s get his head. The post was, I asked for the truth and we got his head. Is that really the right thing?
SC: Did Eason Jordon do the right thing by resigning?
RA: I don’t know, I think it was an interesting thing because you had a fairly heavy right-wing response to this especially in the US and it seemed that the left wing, the left side was silent to a degree – it didn’t respond. And it was kind of odd because you’d think that if he felt so strongly about it or others did you’d think there would be a massive debate ensuing and it seemed that for at least two weeks all you heard was from the right and all that noise cause essentially CNN and Jordon to come to some conclusion that he had to go.
SC: Some people will argue that these blogs are used by conservative vigilante partisans I guess bent on discrediting and destroying what they perceive as left-wing controlled media outlets, particularly in the US. Would you agree with that?
RA: No I actually disagree because I’m not on the right or the left I consider myself to be an independent thinker and I think the blogs are a way for anyone to speak their mind. It’s a democratisation of the people in some sense. So anyone could have posted or responded on either side it just seemed that the left hadn’t really understood what the blogs are about and some people on the right have. But I don’t think it’s a tool for the right in any way. I think it’s a tool for the people to become empowered and deal with those in authority. I really hope it doesn’t become some vehicle for conservatives to take down liberals because I think its sort of an even handed technology which really doesn’t care about your politics.
SC: Except that people like Eason Jordan are going to be less likely in future to speak their minds frankly in forums like Davos and people like you are less likely to be admitted. Isn’t that the case?
RA: Hopefully I’m not blacklisted from Davos for speaking my mind. I think the concept of transparency and being able to ask for the truth should be an open question.
SC: Yes, but you take my point that uh that these forums I guess depend on a very great extent on a sense of goodwill amongst the participants and if people get burnt like this they are less likely to participate in future.
RA: I think you have to make a distinction between someone discussing an opinion or having a view and someone stating a fact in a power position and then when asked to back up that fact with evidence is kind of caught red-handed and sort of backs-up. I think there is a real difference because I completely support this idea that anyone should be able to have a wide and free discussion on any topic and they shouldn’t be crucified for that. But it’s very different when someone in a position of power makes a statement and then when asked to back it up cannot. That’s a very different story.
SC: Hmm. This forum was supposed to be off the record wasn’t it.
RA: I don’t completely agree. There’s a number of people who have read the policy and in fact that room was a broadcast room and it was described as being an on the record room and many of the discussions in that room and another (9.27minutes)??? were actually broadcast live all around the world and there were hundreds of people in the room who after the session probably talked about what happened with others of their friends which means that the information got to thousands. Blogging just brought it up to a level of millions but to think that a discussion in front of hundreds of people including media, photographers, everyone is going to be confidential and off the record doesn’t make any sense at all.
SC: Rony, what do you think you have achieved?
RA: Well that’s a good question because my original goal was to ask for some truths for evidence for some back-up to have a lively debate and it sort of exploded into a blog storm and Jordan resigning. Hopefully the positive thing that comes out of this is that there is an awareness of the power of blogs and that there needs to be a sense of morality ethics and some kind of rules placed upon it. Although by default it seems more like the wild west where there are no rules. It is a new force to deal with in the media.
SC: Indeed. Just leaving aside this issue of Eason Jordon’s resignation it really is the case isn’t it, that blog sites in the US kind of encrusted around the central political debates in Washington more and more these days. And people are going to them for their news and for their views.
RA: Absolutely, absolutely. The blogs are seen as sort of the uncensored feelings of people on the ground. They could be people from the media having their own blogs they could be individual citizens but it’s a sense of a real free speech without accountability to commercial needs. When you work in the media you have sponsors, you have corporate bottom lines, when you blog there is no responsibility but your own thoughts and what you basically feel like asking.
SC: But do you see the irony that here we have a senior professional journalist brought down by something he said that he couldn’t account for, yet he was brought down by bloggers who aren’t accountable and don’t have to be accountable.
RA: Well I think the accountability of people blogging is that you have your name associated with it and if you’re driving something that’s completely nuts you’ll be attacked and you’ll be taken down yourself. I think when you ask a challenging question and it makes sense and you ask an authority figure for an answer and they cannot respond its kind of a, you build a momentum with other bloggers who want to ask that question, they want to dig up facts, they want to know what’s going on. I think it’s a mechanism that keeps those in power in check to a degree. It’s a way of not being a passive audience, it’s a way of being an interactive audience.
SC: Thanks for your time.
RA: Thank you very much sir.
SC: Another victory for democracy in an age when everyone gets to speak their mind. Blogger Rony Avoritz there.