The Goose and the Gander
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
Pagination or Media Count:
On November 10, 2008, David Rohde, a New York Times reporter, was kidnapped by the Taliban. At the request of the Times, the press embargoed that information-they did not report on it in any fashion-for 7 months, until Rohde escaped. To justify their request, the Times made the case to their colleagues that any publicity would put their reporters life in danger. This effort was so aggressive that Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia written and maintained by its readers, kept constant vigil over Rohdes page, and repeatedly deleted attempts to document the fact of his kidnapping, even though, according to the Times Public Editor, writing on July 5, 2009, the Taliban had already distributed propaganda tapes while Rohde and his associates were captives. This was not the first time that the press would withhold information about a kidnapping when the victim was a reporter. When Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, was abducted in Iraq, a press embargo held for 3 days until al Jazeera broke it and, of course, once one major outlet reports the story, there is little reason for others to hold back. In Afghanistan, CBC reporter Mellissa Fung was held for a month by the Taliban, and that information was not reported during her captivity, either. This desire to keep press kidnappings quiet reflects a sad lesson learned from the case of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and killed in Pakistan in 2002. The Journal, and Pearls family, pushed hard to get his story play, hoping it would humanize him to his captors, unfortunately to no avail.
- Information Science