journalists had access… Journalists could, if they wanted to, get on a chopper
and go anywhere you wanted… The Pentagon learnt that this kind of free access
to reality is really not in their interest and so they came up with the embeds
and the pools and stuff like that. … Pretty much everybody is conspiring to
keep journalists from learning stuff.” (Mort Rosenblum)
May 5, to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, UNRIC showed the documentary “The
War You Don’t See”, followed by a Q&A session with journalist Mort
the Iraq invasion have been prevented if journalists had scrutinized Colin
Powell’s claims on weapons of mass destruction in the UN Security Council? Did
they try to investigate what was behind the claims? Were they denied access? Or
did they just simply swallow the government’s information and pass it on to the
public without further thoughts? Are they “witting or unwitting accomplices”?
his documentary “The War You Don’t See” John Pilger tries to find out, among
other things, how journalists handled Powell’s “facts” and gets different
answers: the former Observer journalist David Rose who is deeply ashamed of the
way he reported on it; David Mannion, editor-in-chief of iTV news, who doesn’t
seem to find it troubling in any way that nobody ever questioned this “truth
about the weapons of mass destruction” and Fran Unsworth, BBC head of news
gathering, who can’t quite find an explanation for why the BBC didn’t do a better
the film speaks about reporting of civilian casualties, about the behaviour of
military staff, about journalists in Palestine and about WikiLeaks. Pilger
talks to a former diplomat, to a representative of the Pentagon, to journalists
and to Julian Assange and his bottom line is: journalists should never be
satisfied with one source – a rule that seems obvious but apparently is ignored
regularly in the daily life of a journalist.
Rosenblum was the special guest for the evening, a reporter since the 1960s who
covered many wars himself. While he was not in agreement with all messages of
the film he reaffirmed this last appeal by John Pilger to be vigilant of
sources. “Governments lie”, according to Mr Rosenblum. He doesn’t accept the “generality
business”: journalists cannot be divided into bad or excellent reporters.
Everyone makes mistakes, wittingly or unwittingly. But he did emphasize that
reporters carry a responsibility.
film does not give any definite answer to what the perfect journalist should
look like, and neither did Mr Rosenblum. But his own motto “You’ve got to be
able to look at yourself in the mirror” might be a helpful orientation – and
the film seemed to show that some journalists are finding it hard to do so now.