News Agencies and the United States: The Persistence of a Passive Reporting Norm in the face of Threat and Deception

TitleNews Agencies and the United States: The Persistence of a Passive Reporting Norm in the face of Threat and Deception
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Paterson, C.
Affiliation (1st Author)University of Leeds
Section or WGInternational Communication Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeINCT1a
Slot Code (Keyword)INCT1a
Time of Session9:00-10:30
Session TitleGlobal communication, conflict and social change
Submission ID6692

This paper draws from the author’s larger research project concerning the threat to journalists from states traditionally associated with ‘press freedom.’ It is argued that a greater threat to a democratic public sphere than heavy-handed and undemocratic control of information is journalistic self-censorship and close collaboration with governments which are both the main subject and main source for the stories news agencies distribute to the world’s media. This paper details cases of close collaboration between news agencies and governments in the past decade and the struggle within news agencies to challenge governments which advocate press freedom, especially the United States, but which also present a deadly threat to journalists and engage in projects of press manipulation and disinformation. An example detailed in the paper is the case of major news agencies, in concert with other major media, broadly anticipating and prepared for the 2003 war in Iraq long before the United States declared that it had an international mandate to invade. In essence, they treated the war internally as inevitable, and invested considerable sums in preparing for it, while presenting to their global audience reports suggesting diplomatic efforts were underway and war could be avoided. The paper addresses and seeks to provide evidence of an issue which much of the literature concerning journalism and conflict has downplayed - the complicity of the press in their own destruction (metaphorically and physically), through the vehicle of their collaboration with governments which threaten and harm them.

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