Friday, August 15, 2008

Georgian Crisis: Target the Messenger

Committee to Protect Journalists: "Dutch cameraman killed, reporter wounded in Georgia"

New York, August 12, 2008Stan Storimans, a cameraman with Netherlands-based television channel RTL Nieuws, was killed today during bombing in the central Georgian city of Gori. His colleague, reporter Jeroen Akkermans, suffered shrapnel wounds to his leg and was hospitalized in a Tbilisi clinic, Jaspir Teijsse, a spokesman for RTL Nieuws, told CPJ. Storimans was 39.

Three journalists have been killed and at least nine wounded since fighting erupted Thursday between Russian, Georgian, and local forces in the disputed region of South Ossetia, according to reporting by the Committee to Protect Journalists. (...) >>>

... Update: Human Rights Watch has now confirmed Storimans was killed by a Russian cluster bomb ...
EUX.TV: "Analysis: Russia's Contempt for Free Press Kills Dutch Journalist," by Raymond Frenken

The exact circumstances of his death are not fully clear yet, but some reports said a 'media centre', or a gathering place for journalists, was hit by a Russian bomb or shell. RTL reporter Jeroen Akkermans was injured and is being evacuated. Another report said several Greek journalists were also injured.

In order to 'justify' Russia's bombing of Georgian towns and cities, Moscow's propaganda machine is running in overdrive this week. Even Brussels journalists like yours truly now are invited to daily Russia embassy briefings. (Every day this week at 1500 hours in the Residence Palace).

Just try and analyze their statements when you watch the conflict on TV: All Russian ambassadors sing from the same hymn-sheet. Almost literally, the same words are used by Russian government officials speaking at the United Nations in New York, at NATO in Brussels as in Moscow.

This is coordinated communications. It's propaganda seeking to influence world opinion, even accusing pro-NATO and pro-EU Georgian President Mikhail Sakaashvilli of war crimes.

While attempting to analyze this propaganda, I can clearly envisage someone in Moscow taking inspiration from the Balkan Wars in the last decade, and from what the U.S. government, supported by its conservative pro-government media, managed to achieve in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Moscow guy is not by himself. He's part of a large team, that writes, in advance, a communications strategy that supports the military objectives of this particular conflict. Not just twisting the truth, but creating a whole new version of it that accuses Georgia of war crimes and genocide. (...)

Reporters covering 'undesirable' facts, such as a Russian reporter reporting from inside Georgia on the Russian bombing for the Russia Today channel, are no longer given air-time. George Orwell would have been proud. More of such instances and anecdotes will emerge in the years to come when communications scholars analyze the media coverage, but let us be aware that such misguided information already is affecting global thinking at this moment. (...) >>>

EUX.TV: "Russia Accuses EUX.TV of 'Dirty Propaganda'"

The Russian embassy at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Brussels has accused EUX.TV, the Europe channel, of "Russophobe" reporting that supports "dirty propaganda aims."

Reacting per email to an analysis article on the EUX.TV website, Alexey Zaytsev, press officer at the Russian Mission to NATO, said an article published on Tuesday shows the webtv channel's "interest in anti-russian campaign very clear."

The article involved, written by EUX.TV editor Raymond Frenken, was published under the headline "Russia's Contempt for Free Press Kills Dutch Journalist" (above).

It analysed media coverage of the war in Georgia in the light of the killing earlier that day of Dutch RTL Nieuws journalist Stan Storimans, who was reporting from the Georgian town of Gori. The article mentioned a number of examples of questionable reporting both on the Russia Today TV channel and on CNN to underline the need for independent reporting from inside a conflict zone.

"I'm not in the mood to analyse your Russophobe scribblings," said Zaytsev, "but if even you yourself write in your absurd article "the exact circumstances of his death are not fully clear yet" so how can you blame Russia for what is not proved?" (...) >>>

Here's a link to a video showing a Turkish media under heavy attack. It's a wonder they made it alive.


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