FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

No Substitute for Free and Unfettered News Gathering

by PHIL DONAHUE

Say what you will about Sarah Olson, she got the story. On the ground and armed with only an audio tape recorder, reporter Olson did nothing more radical than dig deep — the first law of journalism. Her interview with Lt. Ehren Watada vividly painted the portrait of a young man in anguish — to serve or not to serve. As the after-hours boys in the Press Bar used to say, “It’s a great story!”

The Watada case is about to become front page, his court-martial at Fort Lewis, Washington is sure to be covered by the networks, the wire services, the major dailies and all the grandees of big journalism. Olson — the local scribe with little power and no budget — got there first. She should be an exemplary reference in the opening day lecture at Journalism school, she got all the “gots”, the coin of journalism’s realm. She got there, got it right and got it out.

She did all this and now she’s threatened with jail if she doesn’t help the prosecutors punish Lt.Watada in a military court. By summoning this reporter to testify against her source the Bush administration is once again admonishing dissenters (and the press who cover them) to shut up and sing, a very un-American thing to do.

Over six thousand U.S. military have gone AWOL since the beginning of the Iraq war, a great story, an important story. How much deep digging can be expected from reporters who risk being forced into court just for talking with these resisters? What acts of conscience will never be known because an over reaching Federal Government looms over the powerless, local journalists who still have the passion for this kind of true story of courage?

Join PEN, the LA Times, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Press Club, and other organizations (not to mention the Framers of our Constitution) and help keep journalists free to be pushy, unpopular and inelegant — sticking a nose under the tent to learn what the righteous have decided is good for us. Dan Ellsberg, John Berendt and Barbara Ehrenreich and do as I have done, sign the petition calling on the Feds to back off this kind of media intimidation. There is no substitute for free and unfettered news gathering. Journalists are not cops nor are they public relations people. They are reporters and there is no substitute for them.

And there is no substitute for Sarah Olson — alone and on the ground — getting a great story right and getting it out there.

PHIL DONAHUE is a former talk show host.

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail