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May 23, 2004 - Minor Press Notes... but startling ones.

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Information Management 101: Managing Reporters



See Reuters, NBC Staff Abused by U.S.  Troops in Iraq
Andrew Marshall, May 18, 2:30 PM (ET)


BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces beat three Iraqis working for Reuters and subjected them to sexual and religious taunts and humiliation during their detention last January in a military camp near Falluja, the three said Tuesday. 

The three first told Reuters of the ordeal after their release but only decided to make it public when the U.S. military said there was no evidence they had been abused, and following the exposure of similar mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. 

An Iraqi journalist working for U.S. network NBC, who was arrested with the Reuters staff, also said he had been beaten and mistreated, NBC said Tuesday. 

Two of the three Reuters staff said they had been forced to insert a finger into their anus and then lick it, and were forced to put shoes in their mouths, particularly humiliating in Arab culture. 

All three said they were forced to make demeaning gestures as soldiers laughed, taunted them and took photographs.  They said they did not want to give details publicly earlier because of the degrading nature of the abuse. 

The soldiers told them they would be taken to the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, deprived them of sleep, placed bags over their heads, kicked and hit them and forced them to remain in stress positions for long periods. 

The U.S. military, in a report issued before the Abu Ghraib abuse became public, said there was no evidence the Reuters staff had been tortured or abused. 

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of ground forces in Iraq, said in a letter received by Reuters Monday but dated March 5 that he was confident the investigation had been "thorough and objective" and its findings were sound. 


Never happened. 

More detail? 


… NBC, whose stringer Ali Muhammed Hussein Ali al-Badrani was detained along with the Reuters staff, said he reported that a hood was placed over his head for hours, and that he was forced to perform physically debilitating exercises, prevented from sleeping and struck and kicked several times. 

"Despite repeated requests, we have yet to receive the results of the army investigation," NBC News Vice President Bill Wheatley said. 

Schlesinger sent a letter to Sanchez on January 9 demanding an investigation into the treatment of the three Iraqis. 

The U.S.  army said it was investigating and requested further information.  Reuters provided transcripts of initial interviews with the three following their release, and offered to make them available for interview by investigators. 

A summary of the investigation by the 82nd Airborne Division, dated January 28 and provided to Reuters, said "no specific incidents of abuse were found." It said soldiers responsible for the detainees were interviewed under oath and "none admit or report knowledge of physical abuse or torture."

"The detainees were purposefully and carefully put under stress, to include sleep deprivation, in order to facilitate interrogation; they were not tortured," it said.  The version received Monday used the phrase "sleep management" instead. 


Never happened.  Well, they weren’t “abused.”

It pays to work for Fox News.  Roger Ailes would make sure you were safe. 

And obviously NBC News Vice President Bill Wheatley hates American and loves Saddam Hussein.  And everything changed after 9-11 of course. 

Information Management 101: Managing Printing and Distribution



This one is curious -


U.S. Accused of Violating Press Freedom in Iraq

Vanessa Gera, Associated Press Writer

Published: May 18, 2004


WARSAW, Poland (AP) An international media watchdog accused the United States on Tuesday of violating press freedom in Iraq, saying Washington is setting a poor example for a future Iraqi government.


The International Press Institute, a network of reporters, editors and media executives, also called on the United States to protect reporters in Iraq.


"The state of press freedom in Iraq gives rise to grave concerns," said a resolution passed by the group's annual meeting in Warsaw.  It cited alleged infringements of media freedom both by the Coalition Provisional Authority and by officials in Washington.


Dick Custin, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, said he could not comment on the institute's accusations but stressed that the United States remains committed to press freedom.


"We certainly encourage freedom of expression and we encourage the journalists to let us know how they feel and express to the world how they feel," Custin said. "One of the things we are working toward in Iraq is freedom of speech."


The resolution condemned a U.S. decision to close the weekly newspaper of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. U.S. officials said the paper had incited violence against coalition troops.


"Bans of news media outlets are both unwise and counterproductive, no matter how inaccurate or unfair the authorities may deem their reporting or editorials to be," the institute said.


The resolution also cited an appeal by U.S. authorities to the CBS television network to delay airing photographs of U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq.

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers acknowledged he made the request because the broadcast would have been "particularly inflammatory" when tensions in the city of Fallujah were at their height.


The telecast on "60 Minutes II" was delayed by two weeks, airing April 28.


Such actions by U.S. officials set "poor examples for the new Iraqi authorities on dealing with independent press outlets," the resolution said.


"Those in positions of authority in Iraq must not only say they are working for press freedom in that country," the institute said. "They must also show that they mean it."

Several of the 14 news media employees killed this year in Iraq died in incidents involving fire by U.S. forces, the group noted.


Well, we said we are working toward freedom of speech.  But one must be careful?

Information Management 101: Selling Advertising Space in the Commercial News Media



Advertisers think Fox viewers are losers and won’t pay very much to reach them?  Maybe so.  This appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal this week -


"We see the numbers on how Fox is outperforming CNN.  But the problem is the press and clients still see CNN as the No. 1 brand."


For Fox News, Ad-Sales Market Isn't Fair, Balanced…

Despite Ratings Lead, Network Has Hard Time Winning Top Rates for Its Shows

Julia Angwin , THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - May 20, 2004; Page A1


NEW YORK -- Paul Rittenberg, head of advertising sales for the Fox News Channel, got on the phone recently to counter a lowball offer. Chrysler wanted to buy nearly $2 million of commercials -- but at a cut-rate price of $8 per thousand viewers.


Mr. Rittenberg pushed for $11.98, almost a dollar below his original asking price. Chrysler turned him down. As he hung up the phone, Mr. Rittenberg said nervously, "I hope CNN didn't get it."


The haggling illustrates a frustrating paradox for Fox News. No longer a struggling upstart, it is beating Time Warner Inc.'s Cable News Network handily in the ratings. But in the peculiar market for television advertising, where the usual rules of supply and demand don't always apply, it has trouble commanding the same rates as its rival.


Attracting a large audience can often let a TV show charge higher rates, because advertisers place a premium on the ability to reach a large number of people at one time. That's why giant events like the Super Bowl or the final episode of "Friends" command such high rates.


But a large audience is not a guarantee of garnering premium prices. Media buyers say they generally pay Fox News ad rates that are about 75% to 80% of what they pay CNN -- even though CNN has only about half the audience of Fox News. And for all the inroads Fox News has made as a news organization, Mr. Rittenberg has to contend with advertisers who use CNN as a yardstick of quality.


Damn, it’s that quality business again.


The problem?


CNN has 3,800 employees worldwide and more than 14 different networks and services, such as CNN International and CNN Headline News.  Its networks are available in more than 200 countries.  By contrast, Fox News has a little over 1,000 employees and is distributed in more than 40 countries.  Its best-rated shows are opinionated commentary programs, "The O'Reilly Factor" and "Hannity & Colmes."


Although the rest of the lineup is news, those shows leave some advertisers with the impression that Fox News is sometimes too hot-blooded and partisan to be considered true journalism.  "The Fox News Channel is not perceived as pure news, because it really is no different than talk radio," says Jon Mandel, co-chief executive of Mediacom U.S., a media-buying company.  That should translate into lower ad rates, he argues.


Ah well.  Last week Dick Cheney said Fox News was the only news source he used.  Doesn’t that count for something?  Then again, Cheney also visited the Wal-Mart headquarters in Benton, Arkansas this week and called Wal-Mart a real American Success Story – even if they pay less than poverty-level wages with no health benefits and a large percentage of their employees are actually on food-stamps?  Well, there’s success as seen from the shareholders’ viewpoint, and then from the employees’ viewpoint.  Sort of depends how you look at it.  Like “news” and the folks at Fox.


Well, to sell those thirty-second spots at a higher rate you change the perception.  Real news shows command higher rates, and sneering, sarcastic conservative commentators don’t.  Perhaps Fox should hire Cheney, on retainer, to say about Fox News, over and over - this IS news, this IS journalism, really, trust me, it is!


Anyway, a footnote from my friend Rick, the ex-AP, ex-CNN news guy in Atlanta -


Not a surprise, of course.  I continually remind people who think ratings are everything of the case of Morton Downey Junior whose syndicated trash show consistently beat everything else in their time slot, but was cancelled because advertisers didn't want to be associated with his trash.”


Of course.


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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