Monday, September 29, 2003
This Clinches It

You want to talk about the media, and their influence? Well, first let's go here (thanks to Tim Blair's blog for the tip):

Media Watch | ABC Baghdad: Kids and bombs

For those of you who'd rather not read the whole thing (though I think you should, it's stunning), here's the gist:

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Gina Wilkinson (wife to UNICEF media officer Geoff Keele) is in Iraq reporting on unexploded munitions left behind by the fleeing Iraqi army. Being a TV news reporter, her job requires her to tape a certain amount of footage for use in her stories. Here she is in action (comments from MediaWatch, an analysis group for Australian media).

[W]hat concerns Media Watch is how this story was made. We've been given a copy of Gina Wilkinson's unedited camera tapes.

Here's what we saw on the news:
The missiles are filled with volatile rocket fuel and two hundred kilograms of high explosives. Locals fear their children could be injured or their homes destroyed by these deadly weapons.
- ABC TV News, 19 August 2003

But why were those children standing on the missile launcher? So Gina could film them. Here's what the camera tapes reveal.

- You want to show the children on there?
Gina Wilkinson: Yeah, that would be good. Yeah, if they don't mind.
- (trans) You want them to stand over there to be filmed?
- (trans) Come on sweetie. What's her name?
- Noona
- (trans) I'm worried about them.
- Sit. Sit on this.
- (trans) I'm worried about them.
- (trans) Sit on the edge.
Gina Wilkinson: Please God, don't let this thing explode now.
- ABC camera tape

The whole point of the story was the danger these missiles pose to children. So why was Gina Wilkinson asking the kids to do this?
Gina Wilkinson: Mr Saadi?
- Yes.
Gina Wilkinson: Can we get these two kids to walk around underneath the missile?
Just around it?
- Mohammad. Mohammad.
Gina Wilkinson: And this one?
- (trans) Come here. Go up there. Go with him. Casually, casually. Walk behind him. Go with him.
- ABC camera tape

Gina wasn't satisfied with the first take, so after re-positioning the camera slightly -
Gina Wilkinson: Mr Saadi, could you ask them to do that one more time for me?
- (trans): This time in reverse?
- (trans): No no no.
Gina Wilkinson: Excellent.
- ABC camera tape

I realize this is not every reporter out there. I realize that most have what is referred to as 'commen decency' and 'common sense.' But dear God! Taking this with New York Times Consultant John F. Burns' latest revelation, I can not help but conclude that while the media business would like to portray itself as 'better' or 'above' other businesses, they are staffed by people just as corrupt as those they try to expose. The hypocrisy is nauseating.

I'm feeling a bit sick to my stomach at the moment, so if you'll excuse me, I'll end my post here.
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A webjournal of ideas, comments, and various other miscellany from a Texan university student (with occasional input from his family) living in Toronto, Ontario. Can you say "culture shock?"

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