Friday, April 09, 2010

Op-Ed on Hostage Reporting

I almost titled this post, the Goose, the Gander and the missing Gosslings.

The Goose and the Gander - PDF
By Cori E. Dauber, Strategic Studies Institute, April 1, 2010

The willingness to release information on one class of hostages—American military personnel—while withholding the same information regarding another class of hostages—fellow members of the press corps—is, if nothing else, a somewhat obvious double standard. Either publicizing a kidnapping puts the victim at risk or it does not, and it is hard to imagine a reason why Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, or Marines should not be granted the same respect in such a situation as is given to a reporter. It is common for members of the press to argue that they are not representatives of any particular country, and that they must observe a level of studied neutrality. The wisdom of such a position aside, these service members are not being taken by another state, but by stateless, brutal, terrorist groups, which use the taking of hostages as a tool of terror and of intimidation, and the desire to temporarily withhold information to protect the life of an individual service member hardly seems to violate objectivity. After all, these same news media organizations regularly tout the fact that when they are convinced by the government that national security interests are legitimately involved, they willingly withhold stories (for example, not reporting that particular Taliban leaders were captured until there is a chance to exploit intelligence gained subsequent to their capture), sometimes, indeed, details of a story are not reported for years—or at all.
Absolutely no mention of contractors. Funny, that.

For what it's worth - my own opinion on releasing information to the press: each kidnapping should be assessed on a case by case basis and should include input of affected family members.

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