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Listening Post

Media mea culpas and the Iraq war

With the war drums beating once again in the US over Iran, have the news media learned anything from the Iraq war?

Last Modified: 30 Mar 2013 08:45
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The 10th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq has prompted some to reflect on a decade that began with the fall of a dictator but descended into a maelstrom of deadly violence. Benefiting from a heavy dose of hindsight the world has been asking “what went wrong?”

Some of the soul-searching has been by the media itself. A handful of journalists have admitted to misjudgements in the run-up to the invasion – but is owning up to a mistake the same as questioning your culpability? As the US government beat the drums for war, journalists, commentators and TV anchors did more than just report the news they played along, taking dubious intelligence as fact and waving the flag when more of them should have been raising alarm bells.  

How can journalists be a check on power if they cannot admit to a collective capitulation of their duty to question? And if the media cannot admit to their failings, whither the next ill-advised military adventure, when the drums sound once again.

Our News Divide this week: Media mea culpas and the Iraq war. We interview Greg Mitchell, the author of the e-book So Wrong For So Long and speak to the Iraqi blogger and activist, Raed Jarrar; Steven Livingston, a professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University; and the Iraqi poet, novelist and scholar Sinan Antoon, who is the co-founder of the Middle East analysis website, Jadaliyya.com.   

Our Newsbytes: Sri Lanka has moved to block broadcasts from the BBC on war crimes against Tamils; in Egypt, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are venting anger in a siege of private TV stations; and good news from the Gulf: Oman has pardoned netizens and dissidents arrested during Arab Spring protests.

Our feature takes us to Africa, where a foreign media presence has been teaming up with local journalists to offer a perspective that you rarely get from the western media. That country is China. But the media strategy is part of a soft power push – one that is helping to secure China’s hold on African natural resources. The Listening Post’s Nic Muirhead takes a closer look at China's media offensive in Africa.

Our online video of the week is all about your online experience. We all know that our go-to websites have quirks and customs that give them a kind of personality. The creatives at Cracked.com have taken this one step further, asking the question: “What if websites were people?” We think you will agree they would be pretty awful dinner guests.

 
Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

Click here for more Listening Post.

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Al Jazeera
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