Millennium Post

Brooking shame

There could be no greater irony that would leave a more bitter taste in the mouths of those still retaining an iota of faith in good journalism than the turn of events in global media in the last couple of days. Yesterday’s editorial lamented the dark times for the press worldwide, particularly in the West Asian and North African countries, where journalists are either paying with their lives or facing state-driven atrocity for their work. Case in point was the unimaginable seven-year jail term meted out to three Al-Jazeera English journalists – Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed (the last one got additional three years) – for their fearless reportage of the ongoing crisis and publishing articles that didn’t toe the Abdul Fattah al-Sisi-led junta regime line. The journalists, who were arrested in December last year in Cairo, were tried in a Kangaroo court and the sentencing has sparked an international outcry. So while Greste, a former BBC journalist, along with his Egyptian colleagues, suffers the ignominy of being mistreated by a totalitarian regime (which, intriguingly, had support from the government in his home country, Australia), Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the Rupert Murdoch-owned disbanded tabloid News of the World, walked free. Brooks was cleared of hacking and phone-tapping charges against a number of British citizens, including a young girl whose voice mail was accessed after she was murdered! So, while Andy Coulson, her colleague at News of the World, and four other ex-employees, have been found guilty, Brooks, the top boss who gave the assent at every point and egged on her juniors to dig out stories and rake up readership and revenues of her tabloid paper, was acquitted of any involvement. It is such a shame that ethical journalism becomes the sacrificial goat in this age of hyper-information.
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