When Neo-Liberalism finally comes crashing down, and what John Pilger describes as our “viche journalism” is exposed for facilitating the Orwellian control it has over us, an unknown employee in Radio New Zealand might be remembered as the one who first blew the whistle.
In this week’s Sunday Star Times, in a story meant to further foment Russophobia, the paper reports that someone within Radio NZ has been altering Reuters’ accounts of the war in Ukraine, to “slant coverage in favour of Moscow,” and that consequently has been stood down.
The SST reports that last Thursday; “RNZ published a story that contained a false account of events in Ukraine,” which “a security analyst”says “may be related to the spread of overseas dis-information in New Zealand.”
The Sunday Star Times reports that this tampering incident is one of fifteen which RNZ is investigating and that it respects Reuters’ policy that its stories are not to be altered without consent. Verica Rupar, a professor of journalism at AUT, says the incidents are “Very, very concerning,” and the Broadcasting Minister, Willie Jackson, described it as “A major issue!”
But, far from fostering fear that our news reporting has been infiltrated, the great irony of the Sunday Star Times story is that it actually exposes the blind faith our media has in the reporting which foreign news agencies supply.
I mean, heaven forbid that someone might, for instance, once upon a time, alter a story which claimed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction or that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was the cause of the Vietnam war, which came to us courtesy of the news agencies our media has such faith in. Good Lord – that sort of tampering with news reporting could lead to peace!
But, facetiousness aside, read the paragraph in the Reuters’ story as it was supplied to RNZ and then read the altered version, and judge for yourself which is the more accurate and objective.
Original Reuters’ story as it was received from the news agency;
“The conflict in Ukraine began in 2014 after a pro-Russian president was toppled in Ukraine’s Maidan revolution and Russia annexed Crimea, with Russian-backed separatist forces fighting Ukraine’s armed forces.”
And here, as it was altered to read before being posted on the RNZ website:
“The conflict in Ukraine began in 2014 after a pro-Russian elected government was toppled during Ukraine’s violent Maidan colour revolution. Russia annexed Crimea after a referendum, as the new pro-Western government suppressed ethnic Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine, sending in its armed forces to the Donbass.”
While every detail in the second account is corroborated by numerous independent and authoritative reports freely available on the web, the Reuters’ account of the Ukraine tragedy is designed to “slant coverage in favour of Washington,” to paraphrase the concern earlier expressed.
And it’s that which should be seen as “very, very concerning” and as “a major issue” for us.
But right now, and most importantly, have a thought for a courageous Radio New Zealand employee who, at this very moment, suspended and under investigation, is probably feeling very alone. And if you know him or her, tell them that speaking truth to power is what real journalism should be about, that we are in their debt and ready with whatever support they need.