CPJ’s Terminology bias when reporting on Detained Journalists

July 25, 2014

In reporting on the abductions of various journalists in Eastern Ukraine, The Committee to Protect Journalists exposes its clear bias by its very selective terminology:

1. Firstly CPJ refers to those fighting for Donbass independence as “pro-Russia separatists” – the official Western government line faithfully echoed by the Western government and corporate media.

If CPJ was consistent in reporting Syrian rebels as pro-West rebels, or US-Saudi-financed rebels then there might be some merit; though there actually is not only no solid proof that Russia is supplying heavy arms (versus “volunteers”) to Donbass (mostly US – and its faithful Ukrainian – government allegations faithfully echoed and amplified and by the Western media till it becomes Accepted Truth), but the separatists don’t all necessarily want to be part of Russia but primarily independent of Kiev.

So anti-Kiev separatists is equally valid. Yet CPJ follows the official US Government terminology.

2. For CNN, and the BBC, the term “international broadcasters” is used. When referring to RT, which broadcasts internationally as well, the unwieldy but apparently clearly necessary “Kremlin-owned broadcast outlet” is added. Similarly the term “pro-Russia” is added to describing abducted reporters from ANNA news. RIA Novosti and Interfax are simply refered to as Russian news agencies.

CNN is a Time Warner US Corporate owned paper. BBC is a UK Government funded entity. Yet no qualifiers are used when describing these outlets. You will never hear the “Whitehall-funded British outlet” in front of the BBC. Apparently the CPJ only feels compelled to adjectivize Russian entities.

The inherent assumption, of course, here is that CNN and BBC are “free and objective” free of their Governments influence (and so don’t need a qualifier). Not only is this false; (there are many ways to influence a media from the rough to the subtle and both have to follow certain restrictions when an issue is deemed to be of “National Security” ) both of these Western organizations are the first to broadcast any theory put out by the US Government breathlessly as fact following up the veracity only much later if at all. With a constant news cycle who has time to correct mistakes? The key is to imprint on the audience a certain theme (eg Putin-is-Evil) and hammer away.

What’s worse of course is that CPJ – who should not care about what view a journalist has – while ostensibly expressing concern about abduction of reporters

(A) obviously hints that certain journalists (like “pro-Russian” ones) are unworthy victims.

(B) while simultaneously signaling that it’s so “objective” it’s even calling for these unworthy people to be freed.

If CPJ has an ounce of objectivity, it would remove all qualifiers and be consistent in the way it describes news organizations.

I’m not holding my breath though.

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