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8 November 2007
Sometimes journalists are just like people
By Daan de Wit
This article has been translated into English by Ben Kearney
Sometimes journalism is not doing what it should do. Problems of this type can be seen for example in the coverage of September 11th, the lead-up to the Iraq war and the coverage of the War on Terror. But on a less serious level, things don't always go well either. A few examples.

Did RTL manipulate the audio of a demonstration against Zorreguieta at Princess Ariane's baptism? - View the video and the photo is the headline above an article that DeepJournal published yesterday. In response to this the critical blogger and former news man Stan van Houcke writes: 'I can still remember the time of Ulbricht well. The time when this communist apparatchik would wave condescendingly to his people on East German television. Those were the days. The communist mass media were in on it, otherwise Ulbricht would never have been able to keep up the con for so long. So every time the leader appeared on-screen, the people cheered and the sun shined. Everyone liked him, no one ever booed or bahhed. People were careful. This approach seemed so successful that the Western commercial mass media quickly adopted it. In particular on American television you never, ever see a dissident, and you never hear the voice of a dissident on commercial radio. The sun always shines, and dissident tones are filtered out. Today I got news from Daan in which I read - to my great horror - that the era of Ulbricht is now upon us here in the polder. Read it for yourself: Did RTL manipulate the audio of a demonstration against Zorreguieta at Princess Ariane's baptism?' [Zoreguieta is Jorge Zoreguieta, the father of the Dutch princes Máxima Zoreguieta,married to future king Willem-Alexander of Orange].

It is not the first time to place some questionmarks regarding the media.

September 23rd. Prison Planet publishes a spectacular article. The email that I sent to Prison Planet the following day remains unanswered: 'Your top- article CNN: The war with Iran has begun is last years news.'

September 28th. I receive an email by a reader of DeepJournal, concerned about the headline in an article by the New York Sun Attack on Iran Said To Be Imminent. I had read it earlier because of the alarming headline in the RSS feed calling for my attention. The article read: 'Yesterday's edition of Le Canard Enchaîné, a French weekly known for its investigative journalism, reported details of an alleged Israeli-American plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.' Apparently not every journalist knows that canard is not only French for the word duck, but also means journalistic blunder. A newspaper with the word canard in the title might be a reason to pay some attention; checking the original French article and the website of the newspaper proved the hunch. Under the title of the newspaper it reads: 'Journal saritique'. Not deterred by hunches or suspicions, author Benny Avny writes: 'Like most stories in the French paper, the article was based on unnamed sources who said that in order to reduce casualties, the attack against Iran is planned for October 15, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.' Sentences like this make you smile and wonder at the same time. I returned the email to the reader. No email to Avny, he should have known better.

October 7th. A headline in the Sunday Herald reads: UK 2017: under surveillance. An email I sent the following day remained unanswered:
'Dear Sir,

Looking at the date line it seems like you published your article today (Sunday, October 7, 2007). The reactions to your article are from today (and yesterday) too. But the report [PDF] you refer to seems to be from 2006, including the 'surveillance society' quote from Thomas. And another thing, the number 2017 does not show up in the data base of the Surveillance Studies Network .
Am I mistaken, is something else not right?

Daan de Wit

It appears the date line changes as the days change, so the date line might not be connected to the article. But I'm not sure the people who replied to your article know that too. Was your article written this month?'

Kirstie Ball of the Surveillance Studies Network, whom I also emailed in the course of checking out the story, sent me a reply:
'Dear Daan,
Thank you for your email. The report was published in November 2006, and the scenarios discussed in the report refer to 2016, not 2017 as stated in the article, so the article is incorrect. That article has been published now because last Friday, in Edinburgh, the Public Policy Network and the Scottish ICO held an event called 'Surveillance in Scotland', in which the report featured, among other things. I don't know the journalist involved. The dateline I think refers to today's date. I imagine the article will be archived in a week or so.
I will contact the journalist and ask them to correct the piece. Perhaps you should too.'

October 8th. One of the headlines by The Raw Story reads Secret Service shot at car of agent said protecting Ahmadinejad. The article was picked up by many media outlets and is as of today still posted online over at The Raw Story. It's based on information from The Blotter. A somewhat less spectacular story can be found there: an officer sitting in his car seat accidentally discharged his firearm into his seat and through the bottom of his vehicle.
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