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"I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast."- Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman
Have times changed? Last week Qatar's English Language Gulf Times carried a warning of a different sort from CENTCOM officials to journalists on the eve of the assault in Fallujah:
US-led coalition forces gear up for a final push on the Iraqi hotspot of Fallujah, an official of the US Central Command (Centcom) in Qatar has cautioned world media against the potential threat journalists faced from insurgents and militants operating in the city.As we've seen in the week since, stories and photos from those many journalists were delivered rapidly and regularly from the frontlines throughout the battle for Fallujah. Regardless of your thoughts on the results of their efforts, the risks taken by these individuals were real, and their results were often outstanding and always worth noting. This week we'll take a look at their last week's work, paper by paper, day by day, providing headlines, the first paragraph, and links to the full story. A comprehensive guide to the battle for Fallujah, as reported by the many reporters who went in harms way to bring it. Whether the "truth" has been delivered from Fallujah will be a matter of opinion of the reader.
"Since January this year, anti-Iraqi forces have abducted at least 20 journalists," pointed out Lt Cmdr Balice, quoting the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
There is a widespread perception among Iraqis that foreign journalists are "spies" or collaborators with coalition forces, the CPJ had stated in a recent report.
Reporters Without Borders, an international media watchdog with its headquarters in Paris, has listed Iraq as the most dangerous country for journalists.
The 19-month Iraq conflict has now claimed the lives of 57 news media personnel - journalists and critical support staff - and one is missing, according to records kept by the International News Safety Institute.
"There is a concentration of international media at Fallujah and roughly 50 journalists are embedded with coalition forces," explained the Centcom official.
A number of journalists, who are working unilaterally, have received direct threats from the anti-Iraqi forces, according to Lt Cmdr Balice.
Quds Arab-language news wire service in recent days has reported that anti-Iraqi forces have forced out four Arab-language media outlets from Fallujah.
Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, the Middle East Broadcasting Company, the Lebanese Broadcasting Company and Al-Iraqiyah television were accused of providing biased coverage to coalition forces by refusing to telecast insurgent stock footage of alleged civilian casualties.
"We are trying to get Arab media to embed with the coalition troops as it is very important that Arab citizens get balanced media coverage from Iraq," observed the Centcom official.
Though embedding places restrictions on the mobility of media personnel, as they move along with designated coalition force units, it offers direct safety, claimed Lt Cmdr Balice.
But the Centcom official declined comment on the expulsion of Al Jazeera satellite television channel from Fallujah by the interim Iraqi government. "All I can say is that it was a decision of the interim Iraqi government and the coalition forces are there to support them," he maintained.
On Al Jazeera's coverage of the Iraq conflict, Lt Cmdr Balice recalled that "there have been specific cases where facts were not in proportion to reality". "We have seen unfair influence towards one side of the story," stated the Centcom official referring to Al Jazeera's reports from Iraq.
Al Jazeera correspondent Tareq Ayoub was killed on April 8, 2003 when US missiles hit the channel's Baghdad office, an incident described by Al Jazeera as a "deliberate" strike. "I wish to reiterate that there was a direct threat to our forces from that building and it was not a response to the media," Lt Cmdr Balice said.
The Centcom official concluded by expressing hope that journalists would not succumb to the intimidation tactics of the anti-Iraqi forces.
do a search at getty image archive for fallujah. The pictures tell a great story and show that the US is compassionate even to captured insurgents.
tagPosted by tag at November 14, 2004 07:57 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(1) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)