Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Hebdo

Don’t Forget the X Factor

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Female terrorist

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said Oregonians have a moral obligation to accept Syrian refugees despite reports that one of the Paris attackers had a Syrian passport.  According to NPR, this has led 23 governors to say they do not want any Syrian refugees and that the President should reconsider his policy of admitting up to ten-thousand refugees.

In a subsequent OPB story, emphasis was placed on the number of single, combat aged men, who assumedly are most capable of conducting such terrorist operations.  However, the story ignored the number of single, combat aged women.  Jayne Huckerby, an associate professor at Duke University law school who advises governments in counter-terrorism strategies told the Los Angeles Times that female terrorists have a long history of exploiting gender stereotypes to avoid detection, and through counter-terrorism measures, have become more effective.  She says women account for about 10% of those joining Islamic State from Europe and about 20% of those joining from France.

Female terrorist ranks include 57-year old grandmother Fatima Omar Mahmoud Al Majjar.  She attempted to kill two Israeli soldiers in 2007.  Also, Samantha Lewthwaite, the infamous “White Widow” for her involvement in a case in Kenya in 2011.  According to Philip Perry of Liberty Voice, female acts of terrorism have skyrocketed since the 1980s, taking place in such countries as Palestine, Iraq, Israel, Chechnya, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Sri Lanka. Half the suicide bombings in Turkey, Sri Lanka and Chechnya since 2002 have been perpetrated by women. In 2008 Iraqi female bombers had detonated themselves 21 times before the year was even halfway over.

The moral obligation of the United States to help people fleeing for their lives remains unchanged.  And as these stories are told, the media must continue to struggle to not profile.  But newsworthy statistics that are part of the equation should also be part of the story.

Women are equally deadly.

Photo by Hanna Kozlowska of the Chauthi Duniya newspaper

Written by Interviewer

November 18, 2015 at 06:31

CBS correspondent Elizabeth Palmer speaks volumes

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Elizabeth Palmer

Elizabeth Palmer, a correspondent for CBS News gave an excellent report this morning from Paris about how the French snapped up every copy of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.  The magazine was the target of a terrorist attack last week that killed staff and police.

Over the last few days, there has been a discussion in the media as to whether the media should show the cover of the magazine.  Critics say covers that depict the prophet Mohammed are disrespectful and incite violence.  The attack, claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was precipatated it says by previous covers that also depicted the prophet Mohammed.

The discussion has mostly been around the reaction by print and online publications and should they or shouldn’t they reprint Charlie Hebdo’s controversial images.  The intesting thing about Ms. Palmer’s report was that at the end of it, she calmly held her copy of the magazine up to the camera while doing her lockout.

The thing is, the report showed many French buying, holding and reading the magazine.  And for at least the last two days, the proposed cover has been broadcast around the world in advance of the record setting 3-million print run.  And while journalists are discouraged from editorializing, they can occasionally say something without directly saying it.

Ms. Palmer didn’t have to hold the magazine up in front of the camera as  she was ending her report, but as a journalist, she was also making a statement.  I think she was saying, as were the  French and journalists around the world, “We own this”.  A friend had another interpretation; “F—- You, Al-Qaeda.”

Either way, classily done, Ms. Palmer.

Rubber Hits the Road over Charlie Hebdo

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Rubber Hits

As Charlie Hebdo prepares to print 3-million copies of its monthly magazine that is normally only a 60,000 print run, the news program BBCNewsHour reports that BBC management did not make themselves available to speak about the question of whether it would display an image of the latest Charlie Hebdo cover; a cartoon characterature of the prophet Mohammed holding up a sign that says, “I am Charlie” with a tear in his eye and a caption below saying “All is Forgiven.”

BBCNewsHour subsequently said the image is being displayed, but far down and deep within the BBC’s website.  But since this is a blog about interviewing, I think it is very interesting that management of one of the most respected news organizations on the planet didn’t want to talk about a breaking news and key journalistic issue with one of their own journalists.

This, as I mentioned in my previous post about this, is where the rubber for journalists hits the road.  All of the support for Charlie Hebdo is crashing head-on into fears by management and audiences alike, especially in European countries where Muslim populations are high, of how much will supporting the ethics of free speech incite?

I guess when you don’t share a border with a country who was a former colony and for whom now, emigration is a historical reality, you tend to be a little braver.  And when you’re separated from some of those same countries that may be harboring terrorists by a couple of oceans, maybe you’re a little braver still.

In this country, if an indigenous ethnic minority, affiliated with some similar organization, employed radical, random and guerilla style insurgent tactics of terrorists with the frequency that they do overseas, we would likely be more sympathetic to what Europe is going through.  And some American pundits might not sound so much like Ironman.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t, but there might not be so many of them.

Written by Interviewer

January 14, 2015 at 04:37

Media Questions About Charlie Hebdo Not Naval Gazing This Time

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Charlie Hebdo

Media is a human institution, just like every other institution on this planet.  It is not perfect.  The media has been accused of everything from under focusing on the right thing to over focusing on the inane thing.  But sometimes, it gets the hard look at itself right.

NPR’s Here and Now had a discussion with Eric Wimple, Media Columnist for the Washington Post on whether there is a level of hypocrisy amongst the media regarding the reprinting of debatable political cartoons by the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.  Two and possibly three terrorists involved in the killings of Charlie Hebdo staff and French police were killed in and outside of Paris by French police.  The hashtag “#Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) has popped up as a sign of solidarity with the right to free speech as expressed in their political cartoons.

But there has been a counter hash tag, “#Je ne suis pas Charlie Hebdo” (I am not Charlie Hebdo) as a way of saying although the killings were unacceptable, some of the cartoons the magazine published were purposely incendiary and equally unacceptable to some.

This has landed some media smack in the middle of the question of how much support they will give Charlie Hebdo.  It should be noted that the publication itself has already said they will meet their next printing deadline on time and publish as usual.  But the New York Times and Slate are revealed to be on opposite sides of that intention of support.

Here and Now reported that the New York Times will not re-publish any of Charlie Hebdo’s more controversial cartoons, esp. those that depict the prophet Mohammed.  Slate, by contrast, will.  And the question for journalists is, where is the line separating the brotherhood of the pen from what their audience (including advertisers) will bear?

Charlie Hebdo does not need other publications to carry their water.  They have hoisted their own load onto their own shoulders, terrorists be damned.  The ink still pulses within them and that makes anyone who truly is a “journalist” proud.  But journalists don’t make the business decisions where stockholders and cultures with fickle morals compasses are concerned.

But at least this time, the conversations within the Fourth and Fifth Estates are actually rocking the houses.