A number of organizations concerned with maintaining the integrity of journalism have established web pages that monitor current efforts to limit government freedom of information as part of the war on terrorism. They include the following:
Don't trust the media, at least not CNN. Says who? New York Timesphotojournalist Vincent Laforet, currently on assignment in Pakistan. On a Web page for sports photographers Vincent Laforet advised: "Don't trust anything you see on TV and be wary of some of the things you read. I witnessed how sensationalistic the media can be during the Florida recount. It's even worse here. We covered a pro-Taliban demonstration last week attended by maybe 5,000 protestors. CNN stated there were 50,000. The BBC estimated 40,000.
Sacramento journalist R.V. Scheide recounts his experience with an overzealous National Guardsman, who took him into custody for taking photographs at the airport. "When a half-dozen different cops tell you you've done something wrong for two hours straight, there's a tendency to start believing them, even if you haven't done anything," he writes.
When the White House, via National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, requested recently that the networks not air any future unedited videos of Osama bin Laden, the broadcast media's top managers meekly complied. "Thanks to the White House and its high-level courtiers in the media, we Americans -- or those of us without the proper hardware -- are now the only people in the whole developed world who can't actually hear what our enemy is saying about us. That's an odd distinction, considering we are also his main targets," writes Mark Crispin Miller.
Thanks to the spread of the internet, the war in Afghanistan may mark the first time that U.S. citizens have been able to widely access news about a war directly from countries in the region. Here are some websites for English-language daily newspapers published in Israel and the Muslim world:
The Newspaper Guild, which represents newspaper employees throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, has established an electronic clearinghouse on its website that tracks how news organizations treat dissenting journalists during the "war on terrorism." It notes that "the right, obligation and necessity of free inquiry, of the uncensored exchange of news and information, and of vigorous debate and the exchange of conflicting views and opinions ...
In the aftermath of September 11, Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) has tracked blows against press freedom in numerous countries: reporters in Afghanistan have been arrested; journalists in Pakistan have been detained and beaten; the Palestinian Authority has pressured reporters and banned interviews with Palestinians; and the United States has tried to pressure both domestic and overseas media outlets.
There is an aching information vacuum at the center of the war on terrorism, which sources on both sides of the conflict -- both governments and terrorists -- are trying to fill. "The irony is that the US media have already proved willing to comply with military orders when it matters," observes Jay Rayner. "Seventeen news organisations knew three days before that the bombing of Afghanistan was to start on Sunday, and said nothing."
Investigative reporting used to be the sexiest part of the news business, and the most respected. Danny Schechter laments its decline, and tells the story of how ABC News spiked an investigative report on GE's dumping of PCBs in the Hudson River.
Daily newspapers face being booted from Starbucks coffeehouses unless they meet new demands, including one for advertising space. Starbucks, with more than 3,000 stores in North America, wants each regional newspaper to swap ad space for the privilege of being the exclusive local paper sold at its outlets in the area. The effort is a variation of Starbucks' year-old pact with The New York Times, which made the Times the only national newspaper sold at Starbucks.