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Exchange with the Guardian's Richard Norton-Taylor

 
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David C
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Joined: 12 Jan 2004
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Post Post subject: Exchange with the Guardian's Richard Norton-Taylor Reply with quote

If you've ever wondered why certain establishment "think tanks" are forever cited by the media, rather than more critical voices, here's an exchange where one respected Guardian journalist twists and turns.

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From: David Cromwell
Sent: 01 November 2010 18:42
To: richard.norton-taylor@guardian.co.uk
Subject: RUSI: Why no declaration of interest?

Dear Richard Norton-Taylor,

Thanks for your article today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/01/saudi-tip-off-bomb-plot

You give prominence to the views of Professor Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute, quoting a suggestion he made about airport security with approval:

“That is a practical proposal.”

In the interests of journalistic transparency, should you not make a declaration of interest by stating that you are a Member of the RUSI Council?

Regards

David Cromwell

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From: Richard Norton-Taylor [mailto:richard.norton-taylor@guardian.co.uk]
Sent: 02 November 2010 08:16
To: David Cromwell
Subject: Re: RUSI: Why no declaration of interest?

Dear David Cromwell,

Thank you for your email. I do not chose Michael Clarke for comment because I am a member of the RUSI Council. I think RUSI knows this and hope readers can trust this. They need only see how often I get - and seek - comment (more often) from IISS and Chatham House. I hope I don't have to prove integrity.

Richard Norton-Taylor

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From: David Cromwell
Sent: 02 November 2010 08:39
To: 'Richard Norton-Taylor'
Cc: David Cromwell
Subject: RE: RUSI: Why no declaration of interest?


Dear Richard Norton-Taylor,

Many thanks for replying; it’s much appreciated.

I’ve got respect for your reporting and you don’t have to prove your integrity, but it is possible that your affiliation with RUSI could influence your objectivity, even if only unconsciously. And how many of your readers will be aware of your RUSI connection? Hence the need for transparency.

But the deeper point is that whether you quote RUSI, IISS or Chatham House, they’re all establishment think tanks with strong links to officialdom. Why, instead, do you not seek comment more often from non-establishment sources; someone like Mark Curtis, for example? I’m sure you could find plenty of others.

I hope you’ll respond again, please.

Regards

David Cromwell

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From: David Cromwell
Sent: 03 November 2010 08:32
To: 'Richard Norton-Taylor'
Cc: David Cromwell
Subject: RE: RUSI: Why no declaration of interest?

Dear Richard Norton-Taylor,

You told me yesterday that your readers could see “how often I get - and seek - comment (more often) from IISS and Chatham House”. I did some searches on Lexis-Nexis and found that in the previous 12 months, you cited RUSI 24 times. By comparison, IISS was cited 11 times and Chatham House 9 times.

As I noted in my unanswered reply to you yesterday, the deeper point is not whether you quote RUSI or IISS or Chatham House. They’re all establishment “think tanks” with strong links to officialdom. Why would you choose to seek comment from them, rather than from other sources who take a more critical perspective on security, the defence industry and foreign affairs?

Take, for example, Mark Curtis whose thoroughly researched books draw on previously secret government files. You quoted him just once in the previous 12 months; and only because he had a comment piece in the Guardian that day. Or how about approaching Scientists for Global Responsibility, a UK-based NGO, for thoughtful analysis? And what about citing Noam Chomsky, perhaps the most widely-read political thinker alive today?

In short, what are your criteria for deciding who to quote?

Regards

David Cromwell

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From: Richard Norton-Taylor [mailto:richard.norton-taylor@guardian.co.uk]
Sent: 03 November 2010 10:43
To: David Cromwell
Subject: Re: RUSI: Why no declaration of interest?

It often depends on who is available and offers responses . Yopu may note I quioted Greenpeace and CND today .
Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:09 pm
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