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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Joke of the day: Brussels calls for media code to avoid aiding terrorists

Thanks to Nicholas Watt and Leo Cendrowicz, The Guardian, for this thorough article on the latest European Commission's whim!

According to Franco Frattini, the vice-president of the commission who is in charge of the report called Violent Radicalisation and Terrorism Recruitment, "Europe's media should draw up a code of conduct to ensure that newspapers, television stations and the internet do not act as propagandists for terrorists. In a move which is likely to provoke a debate on state controls of the media, the commission warns that journalists pose "specific risks" in the fight against "violent radicalisation". The report warns that the media are taking an over-simplified view of the world, which plays into terrorist hands.

The warning to Europe's media will be issued today by Franco Frattini when he outlines a 12-page proposal calling on the EU to agree a Europe-wide strategy to tackle terrorism. Mr Frattini, a close ally of the rightwing Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, offers to host a conference with the media this year to discuss his criticisms."

... "One striking proposal is a call for people to refrain from talking about Islamic terrorism. In an attempt to ensure that the vast majority of peaceful Muslims are not portrayed as terrorist sympathisers, the paper says: "The commission believes there is no such thing as 'Islamic terrorism', nor 'Catholic', nor 'red' terrorism ... The fact that some individuals unscrupulously attempt to justify their crimes in the name of a religion or ideology cannot be allowed in any way ... to cast a shadow upon such a religion or ideology."

The criticisms of the media are contained in a draft drawn up in July, but seen by the Guardian. It has since been refined. Mr Frattini's office said the latest version is tougher in one key area - it names the al-Manar satellite station, run by Hizbullah in Lebanon, as an outlet for terrorist propaganda. The station has been banned in France, the Netherlands and Spain."

My comment: Europe doesn't need such a media code, this is an insult to all journalists and editors already aware that the "war of words" exists and that expressions as "terrorists" or "Islamism" need to be used very cautiously.

The second main drawback of the Frattini's report is that it is not acceptable to say that media - in general - are responsible for disseminating "violent radicalisation" ideas. It is too easy to assimilate Al Manar to the vast majority of European media outlets.

No, Mr Frattini, we are not aiding "terrorists" and we don't need any media code related to this issue. Editorial guidelines decided in every newsroom will be enough.

Source: MediaGuardian

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on September 21, 2005 at 11:54 AM in m. Improving editorial quality, o. Ethics and Press Freedom | Permalink

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