David Milliband, the British foreign secretary,
said the situation in Basra was difficult
This week on The Listening Post, Richard Gizbert analyses just what the coverage of the Basra pullout tells us about the evolution of the media's attitude towards the war in Iraq.

Also in this show, we explore the ethics of airing hostage videos on television.

Different crises around the world have increasingly involved the taking of hostages and broadcasters are ever more faced with the dilemma of when to put a hostage video on air and when not to.

At the top of our show this week we focus on the media coverage of Britain's pull out from Basra. For both the occupiers and the occupied, it was a military and political milestone.

But the British commanders and politicians were unable to paint the event in the positive light they would have liked.

With David Milliband, the British foreign secretary, admitting that Basra was no "land of milk and honey", the media was able to express its own scepticism of the war in Iraq.

French campaign posters for the release
of Ingrid Betancourt
The scepticism, while being a reflection of public sentiment, also represents the change in the media's stance since 2003. Richard Gizbert takes us through the headlines and the news analysis to highlight the differences in the media between then and now.
 
In Newsbytes, our media briefs section, we spotlight the case of Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas whose channel on Youtube was suspended by the video sharing site in November and has recently been reinstated after protests by supporters on the net.
 
Over in Pakistan, the media's woes have not ended. The emergency has been called off, but strict rules remain in place on what the media can and cannot do.
 
And finally, how did Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp celebrate the acquisition of Dow Jones? With a global ad blitz of course! We show you snatches of the $2million print campaign.
 
Our feature story this week spotlights the ethical issues raised in the airing of hostage videos and an interview with the former husband of Ingrid Betancourt, the Columbian presidential candidate taken hostage six years ago.
 
Barney, the American first dog
This past week has seen the Columbian government of Alvaro Uribe agreeing to a security force-free zone for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (Farc) to release some of the group of hostages but not Ingrid Betancourt.

In the course of this long drawn negotiation process with the Farc though, a recent video of Betancourt looking ill has brought hope to her relatives. But when should broadcasters air such videos and when should they not?

Do they have any responsibility to do what is best for the hostages? And what about the danger of the media becoming a mouthpiece for kidnappers? Sinead O'Shea probes the complex issues involved in the airing of hostage videos.

Bringing this week's show to a close is a video featuring Barney, George Bush's dog. It is a seasonal greeting featuring a well-known friend of the Bushes as well.

Watch part one of this episode of The Listening Post on YouTube
 

This episode of The Listening Post airs from Friday, December 21, 2007
 
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