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Female political junkies find voice online

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Nazia Jaan has many hurdles to jump before she can achieve her dream of becoming president. ...Read the full article

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  1. Udom Thongpai from Victoria, Canada writes: It would be a better article if some context were given. How is a source trustworthy when the only point of contact is an email? How can the author know that the source really is female, Afghan, or even in Afghanistan?... She is studying "human rights" at Kabul University. That's where Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh was arrested for blasphemy and sentenced to death for questioning the treatment of women in Islam.... She's involved in an internet campaign in a country where a huge percentage of the people are illiterate and have never seen a computer. How did the reporter find this girl? How did the girl get the reporter's email address? Why is the girl pitching all this to a western reporter?

    So we get the impression that in Afghanistan girls are using the internet in their quest to be president, marching alongside Obama towards a wholesome future.

    It is unfortunately necessary to be skeptical. Eugene Secunda, former senior vice president of the J. Walter Thompson PR firm during the Iraq war said, "One of the most important lessons learned is the necessity of mobilizing strong public support, through the projection of a powerful and tightly controlled PR program, with particular effort directed toward the realization of positive news coverage."
  2. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes: Udom, there's many things which concern me about embedded media reporters. Among those concerns, the lack of distinction made by a media outlet between true journalism and embedded reporting is near the top.

    By lengthy tradition, the Western public has come to believe that journalists seek out the whole truth around an issue. No journalist or legitimate news outlet would simply report one side of a story. They would INVESTIGATE all aspects of the story, and present information which illuminates the entire situation. The public has come to expect and trust that balanced way of presenting the news.

    But embedded reporters do not do that. They take the information that's presented to them by military PR officials and relay it back to the public. There's no pretense at getting a balanced picture: it's all one-sided.

    The problem with this situation is that news media such as the G&M does not make any distinction between the news they present from an embedded reporter and, say, an investigative reporter looking into corruption in government. The G&M doesn't put a disclaimer stating that the embedded reporter's information is being passed on directly from the military. Instead, they offer the information like they would any other investigative journalism.

    That blurring of the lines is dangerous to the public. The media has a duty to the public to let them know the provenance of the information that's being presented.

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