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Exchange with EDP's Martin George re: Afghanistan report

 
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Ian



Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 111
Location: Norwich, England

Post Post subject: Exchange with EDP's Martin George re: Afghanistan report Reply with quote

Below is an email exchange I recently had with Martin George, a journalist for the regional daily the Eastern Daily Press, about a story he wrote about local soldiers in Afghanistan. The exchange starts at the top.


Dear Martin

I read with interest your recent article in the Eastern Daily Press about the Norfolk-based Light Dragoons finding and destroying an insurgent weapons cache in Afghanistan ('Dragon's life-saving find', 9 August).

As there seem to have been a number of similar stories in the EDP over the last few months, I'm interested in how you came across this story. Are the details sent to you by a British military press officer or have you searched out this story yourself?

I ask because opinion polls have consistently shown for several years that the majority of the British public would like British forces to withdraw from Afghanistan. However, the largely positive press coverage of the occupation rarely seems to reflect this.

The Light Dragoons finding the weapons cache may save the lives of British troops in the short-term, but I can't help thinking that unquestioning reports like yours potentially prolong the occupation of Afghanistan, meaning more British soldiers will inevitably die.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this, because I think this is a very important issue.

Kind regards

Ian Sinclair


Dear Ian

Many thanks for your email. This story did indeed come from the military press operation, although you may have seen other pieces in the EDP a few weeks ago by my colleague Chris Hill who spent a week in Afghanistan.

Best wishes
Martin


Dear Martin

Thanks for your reply.

Obviously Chris Hill's trip to Afghanistan was also organised by the MoD's press office - with the intention of showing the British mission/occupation in a good light.

As a professional journalist, don't you see a problem with all this uncritical coverage of the British occupation of Afghanistan? Can you point me to a critical report or article in the EDP?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Ian Sinclair


Hi Ian

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner.

No, I don't have a problem with news stories about what locally-based troops are doing in Afghanistan.

The four pages of national and international news that the EDP prints every day regularly include stories that reflect developments in Afghanistan, and cover the debate about the involvement of the UK and other countries in the country.

Our columnists have also addressed these issues over the years.

Best wishes
Martin


Dear Martin

Many thanks for taking the time to answer my email again. I'm sure you are a busy journalist so I won't email you further on this issue.

I would only point out I also do not have a problem with news stories about what locally-based troops are doing in Afghanistan. However, I do have a problem with local newspapers blindly repeating MoD press releases. Surely you agree this 'journalism' leads to a very skewed picture of what British troops are doing in Afghanistan? If the EDP wasn't simply parroting the British military's propaganda the "news stories about locally-based troops in Afghanistan" you refer to would also include negative stories about the troops, wouldn't they? Or do you think the troops haven't accidently killed civilians, ever acted inappropriately towards the local population or increased the level of violence they are supposedly there to stop (each of which has been widely reported in other publications about British troops more generally)? I'd hazard a guess you didn't get in to journalism to lightly edit MoD press releases.

On the EDP's wider coverage, you (as a journalist who writes regularly for the EDP) and I (as a regularly reader of the EDP) both know there has been no principled criticism of the British occupation of Afghanistan outside the letters page. That this has been the case in a supposedly free newspaper for over 10 years is bad enough. That no criticism continues to appear when polls consistently show a large majority of the British public oppose the war (see, for example, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/threequarters-of-public-believe-war-in-afghanistan-is-unwinnable-7564286.html) is a disgrace.

Kind regards

Ian Sinclair
Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:18 pm
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