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Being a journalist is a lot like being a cop

Being a journalist is alot like being a cop.

In 2008, I investigated a local government department. They had removed funding from a Belfast charity, accusing them of fraud (or, in civil servant terms, “financial mismanagement”). The charity said this was untrue, a spiteful vendetta. They had made a complaint about the department’s staff and this was revenge. Its founders were two eccentric, passionate feminists. It was easy to dismiss them. Local media didn’t check their story out. I did. In between studying for school exams, I filed FOI requests and dug through paperwork. Six months later, I found a document that proved they’d been wronged. The removal of funding was an abuse of power by corrupt civil servants. I rang nearly every newspaper in Northern Ireland, pitching my story.

They refused to publish it. Read More

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  • Was Marie Colvin’s death ordered by the state?

    Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin was killed in Syria just 2 weeks ago: Missiles hit the makeshift media centre in Baba Amr, Homs, where she was staying. While retrieving her shoes from the hall, a rocket landed nearby, killing her and 28 year old French journalist Remi Ochlik.

    The question asked since their deaths has been: was this a deliberate attack by the Syrian army? Early reports suggest it was. It would not be the first time Colvin was attacked by state militia: in 2001, she lost her eye, allegedly after being targeted by a Sri Lankan soldier.

    Iran’s state broadcaster, Press TV, reported yesterday that Colvin and Ochlik were killed by rebel forces, not the army. It cites a nail found in Colvin’s head during an autopsy by Syria’s medical examiner. It’s worth noting here that Iran is an ally of Syria, which makes the report dubious. And there is mounting evidence that this was a state-sponsored attack.

    Check out this article in the Los Angeles Times. The makeshift media centre in Homs was allegedly “part of an ambitious opposition effort” by activists, an attempt to share information about the Syrian government’s activities inside Homs with the rest of the world. In a country that controls the media, this is obviously a big no-no. Coincidentally, the attack on the centre came a day after Colvin delivered a heartbreaking report on the death of children in Homs to CNN’s Anderson Cooper:

    Indeed, the reaction of state-sponsored media to Colvin’s death confirms that Assad’s government sees foreign media and the rebels as being on the “same side”. In this Al Jazeera English report, Laurence Lee tells how Syria state media has reported on what it calls the “so-called massacres” in Homs, reporting that they did not happen and even questioning the integrity of foreign journalists like Paul Conroy (the Sunday Times photographer injured in the same blast Colvin was killed in). For the Syrian army, the attack on the media centre in Homs was no different to an attack on any other rebel holding. Reporters in Syria are now viewed as enemies of the state, which makes the country even more dangerous for foreign media than before.