Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Passion for the truth

Today I found a speech by a world renowned Middle East correspondent for the Independant Robert Fisk, on the role of journalists. He offers his original perception that journalists are "the first witnesses to history" and denounces this as wrong. An Israeli war correspondent had dashed this whimsy when she put it to him that journalists are there to monitor the centres of power, challenge authorities who are going to war and killing people, telling lies to do it. Fisk compassionately declares that "war is not about defeat or victory, it is about the total failure of the human spirit".

The seven times British International Journalist of the year conveys his astonishment for the hypocrisy of society shielding the public from any real violence, "television will not show the horrors we've seen." He points out how ironic it is that the same government who sends troops to kill civilians excuse the publication of photographic evidence out of "respect for the dead". Fisk questions why it is that we allow violence in the form of cinematic entertainment but hide from the reality.

He goes on to brand the relationship developing between reporter and government as “parasitic”, it is seen as unpatriotic to question your countries foreign policy. He opens a copy of the Los Angeles Times and dissects an article written in Washington: "Great place to write about Iraq", he muses. Fisk quotes from the piece dozens of sources that all originate from the government, "US authorities say, US officials say, US authorities believe," etc. Eloquently exemplifying the issue, war is harsh and brutal for all involved but if we are not able to report from the scene, "What’s the point in having reporters? Forget it, we can employ the government or they can employ us!"

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Robert Fisk