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This week’s front page editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Encouraging reporters to become emotionally involved in the stories they cover is a worrying new trend argues the BBC’s David Loyn. He calls for objectivity. Des Freedman sees this as admirable but naive; the problems lie with the larger commercial forces that structure news rather than individual journalists. The debate journies with war reporters through Africa, the Middle East and Chechya, and back to the UK where David Elstein complains about the BBC's coverage during the war in Iraq; Danny Schecter and Lance Bennett both give the US media an earfull for failing to perform critically. Also: what has a philosopher to say about truth and objectivity in journalism?

Egypt: press freedom at a crossroads

The military-backed regime in Egypt has an answer to criticism—blame the messenger. But journalists are fighting back.

Objectivity vs. neutrality on Gaza

The Palestine-Israel conflict poses a moral dilemma for journalists. But being objective does not necessarily mean being neutral, and being fair does not mean refraining from making a judgement.

On the frontline: citizen journalism in Syria

As the Syrian civil war moves into its fourth year, citizen journalists have filled the gap left by professionals denied access to or evacuated from the most dangerous country in the world for working journalists. But they are painfully aware of the growing uninterest of the international media in the unending conflict.

Egyptian editors organise to confront media crisis

The military-backed government has sought to enrol journalists as foot-soldiers in its battle against the ousted Muslim Brotherhood. But when editors met this week in Cairo, a collective spirit stirred. 

Violence against women in Syria: a hidden truth

Despite saturated media coverage of the conflict, violence against women in Syria has largely gone unreported. Often horrifically abused, they have been doubly victimised by the public silence.

Women in journalism: not a trivial subject

The biggest newspapers in the United States, Britain and Europe still reserve pages of the most serious political and foreign policy analysis for older white men.

Whose “Mission”? Celebrities, voice and refugees

A new Italian reality TV show is sending celebrities to refugee camps, but for refugees to be able to speak for themselves and convey the message they want to convey, the cameras must be given to refugees themselves, says Nath Gbikpi.

Afghan Voice Radio: The frontline of a ‘new’ Afghanistan

All around the world, Afghan youth who have fled abroad are investing in online media and sports as vehicles for civic participation and peace, says Zubair Gharghasht.

Syria dispatches: Robert Fisk's independence

The reports from Syria of the journalist Robert Fisk raise serious questions over his credibility, say Yassin Al Haj Saleh & Rime Allaf.

WikiLeaks and network-era news

The WikiLeaks storm of 2010 seems to be spent. But as a symptom of what is happening to journalism the WikiLeaks phenomenon carries profound significance, says Charlie Beckett.

The rapid evolution of Al-Shabab’s media and insurgent “journalism”

The evolution of Al-Shabab’s media arm provides a window into the group’s overall maturation as an insurgent movement that has endorsed key elements of Al-Qaeda Central’s ideology while still focusing primarily on waging a domestic insurgency inside Somalia.

The foreign correspondent: James Cameron, 1911-85

A voice of wry observation and quiet authority that made humane sense of distant events to a domestic public helped James Cameron become the most respected international journalist in post-1945 Britain. But is there room for his world-reporting craft in a very different media age, asks David Hayes.

The wrong target: air strike, legal limit, human voice

Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza...all have witnessed a cycle of deadly air-strikes that inflict civilian casualties but are surrounded by evasion, confusion and dispute. To break the pattern requires a cultural shift, says John Wooding.

“Information intervention”: a test of democratic intent

The architects of democratic intervention are failing to build healthy post-conflict media environments. There is a better way, says Laura Kyrke-Smith.

The media and the war: seeing the human

A journalism that recognises and reports the traumas of civilian victims of war can be truthful, powerful and a counter to the "indifferentiated" assaults of modern terrorism, says Philip Bennett of the Washington Post.

Halabja: whom does the truth hurt?

Fifteen years after the gassing of 5000 Kurdish civilians in the northern Iraqi town of Halabja in 1988, journalist Adel Darwish recalls how American and British governments, and a tame media, stonewalled those who tried to report the atrocity - and the truth it revealed about Saddam Hussein.

(This article was first published on 17th March 2003)

The media and Africa: doing bad by doing "good"?

The reporting of Africa in much of the media shows how the curse of formula can disable the best intentions, says Charlie Beckett.

Ryszard Kapuœciñski: the interpreter

The renowned Polish journalist was a voice for pluralism, tolerance, freedom and dignity, says his former colleague Wiktor Osiatyñski.

Ryszard Kapuscinski: from Poland to the world

The foreign correspondent's decades-long observation and insight revealed truths of power from Tehran and Addis Ababa to Warsaw itself, says Neal Ascherson.

The al-Jazeera revelation

George W Bush’s musings about bombing the leading Arab satellite TV station betray hard truths about the United States’s “war on terror”, says Saleh Bechir.

The numbers game: death, media, and the public

When the media reports wars or disasters, why are death tolls announced before bodies are counted? And what does this do to our democracy? Jean Seaton, author of “Carnage and the Media”, dissects the numbers game.

Guatemala: journalism under pressure

Marielos Monzón, a Guatemalan journalist, received the 2005 Human Rights Journalism Under Threat award from Amnesty International. In her acceptance speech, she describes a land where new injustices have succeeded the horrendous violence of the 1954-96 period.

John Humphrys and the BBC's problem

A dispute over the political views of a leading BBC journalist reflects the concerns of the corporation’s hierarchy over its relationship with Britain’s New Labour government, says David Elstein.

The Thing

Blair, Campbell, Gilligan, Kelly, Hutton, Davies, Dyke...Butler. What, in essence, has happened in Britain? A guide to an unlovely, unfinished affair.

Tall tales and home truths

Why are government and media in Britain so hostile to each other? Because each seeks to control the narratives that shape people’s lives, says Tom Bentley of the think-tank Demos. In the process, both are damaged – and so is democracy itself.

Re-presenting Africa: an interview with Sorious Samura

How do you tell African stories that engage a world audience? The pioneering African news journalist Sorious Samura – a streetwise sophisticate – talks to Caspar Henderson and Caspar Melville of about war, famine, Africa and reality TV.

How should the BBC be regulated?

The BBC is under the spotlight following Lord Hutton’s report, which criticised its coverage of the British use of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. How can the broadcaster recover from its latest collision with power?

Media power: telling truths to ourselves

The crisis in Britain over the Iraq war, its intelligence and its reporting, is one of media as well as politics. John Lloyd asks: can journalism, both press and television, tell stories for active citizens rather than cynical couch potatoes?

Tony Blair and Iraq: a public tragedy

The Hutton report reveals the crisis of the British model of governance. Tony Blair and the BBC alike have fed the public realm’s “manipulative populism”, says David Marquand. Will Blair’s leadership now be consumed by it?

The Campbell Code

The Hutton report on the death of a British scientist blames the BBC and clears Tony Blair, but misses the larger truth of the Iraq weapons affair: the British government’s system of command and control

Hutton and the BBC

The Hutton report is both hopelessly skewed and a devastating critique of the BBC’s failures, says David Elstein. But it provides the corporation with an opportunity to change for the better.

Hutton - the wrong inquiry

A press corroded by cynicism could not see that the death of a British weapons scientist was a private tragedy, not a political scandal.

The nasty truth about the noble lie

The long walk to freedom takes place across language. What happens when words are abused by power, cheapened by war, or corrupted by media? This philosopher-TV executive surveys openDemocracy’s debate on journalism and war, and asks whether George Orwell’s dystopian vision of thought-killing ‘Newspeak’ has been realised in contemporary American journalism.

The perfect storm? The American media and Iraq

The American media’s coverage of the 2003 Iraq war reinforces the pattern established in the wake of 9/11: a combination of intimidation, collusion, inattention, and ethnocentrism. A leading scholar of the media charts a dismal period in US journalism and asks whether a turn of the political tide offers hope of its revival.

Dreams of authenticity: war, TV, and the Chechen mask

Swiss television processes the suffering of Chechnya according to time-honoured formulas recycled in dozens of wars worldwide: ruins, corpses, graves, tears. But Chechen custom defies the media conventions. How do the professionals then react? Irena Brezna fascinatingly explores the tensions between two worlds.
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