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THE LISTENING POST
The Osama bin Laden tapes
Was Al Jazeera's decision to air the latest messages good journalism?
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2010 14:07 GMT



In our lead story this week we focus on the broadcast of Osama bin Laden's latest audio tapes. When the audio was broadcast on Sunday, January 24, it was the first time news audiences around the world were hearing the al-Qaeda leader's voice since last September.

Like so many times before, the tapes were delivered to Al Jazeera and, just as before, it set off a debate, both inside and outside the network on whether it should be broadcast.

Ever since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Al Jazeera has been the network al-Qaeda has often chosen to deliver its messages to. For al-Qaeda, the channel's reach in the Arab and Muslim world, as well as its global audience, is key.

Material aired on the network also gets the attention of Washington. Al Jazeera has been criticised for broadcasting the tapes, in a way that other news organisations have not when they have broadcast or published messages from similar groups.

Our report analyses the editorial factors that come into play when a tape from bin Laden lands at your door.

Philippine massacre

The families of the murdered journalists
want justice [EPA]
Our feature story in the second half of the show highlights the grim state of press freedom in the Philippines.

On November 23, 2009, gunmen opened fire on the motorcade of a Filipino politician, killing the 30 journalists accompanying him.

It was a shocking incident - never had so many media workers been killed at once.

The Listening Post's Simon Ostrovsky reports from Maguindanao where the massacre occurred. He asks if the government is doing enough to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Is it possible that journalists were the target in this attack?

The story of these killings is still front-page news in Manila, but it is off the global news radar. The Listening Post puts the spotlight back on this horrific incident. Simon's report this week is the first of two he filed from Maguindanao.

In this week's Newsbytes: Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy, looks to take control of online video content, meanwhile the ongoing battle between Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, and Radio Caracas Televsion (RCTV) leads to the channel being dropped off cable networks.

In the US, Air America Radio is taken off the air and the winner of the wildlife photographer of the year competition has been stripped of his title.

Stop arguing and start helping Haiti

Finally, Haiti remains a big news story and it retains the attention of a cartoonist named Mark Fiore. He is based in San Francisco and worked for the San Jose Mercury News before taking his skills online.

Amidst of all the news coverage of Haiti there were a couple of incidents on the US airwaves that caught Fiore's eye: right wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh was critical of American aid being sent to the victims, and Pat Robertson, a televangelist, told his viewers that Haitians were suffering from God's will; they were paying the price, Robertson said, for making a deal with the devil in 1804 to get out from under French rule and the shackles of slavery.

Fiore's cartoon, which is our web video of the week, implores everyone out there to stop arguing, stop blaming and start helping. Watch it here.

This episode of The Listening Post can be seen from Friday, January 29, at the following times GMT: Friday: 1230; Saturday: 1030, 2230; Sunday: 0300, 1930; Monday: 0030; Tuesday: 0630, 1630; Wednesday: 0130, 1430; Thursday: 0330, 2330.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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