Friday, February 29, 2008

On the Harry Embargo

Good media practice or simply coniving with the authorities.

The British media's decision to place an embargo onthe news that Prince Harry was fighting in Afghanistan will be debated for some time no doubt.

The one school of thought is that her is an ordinary soldier,unfortunately from a quite extraordinary background who simply wants to do a job that he has been trianed for.The experience of Iraq showed quite simply that with media coverage that wasnt going to happen.

At the other extreme the Respect MP George Galloway accuses the BBC of colluding with the government over its imperialist quest and no doubt believes that the other media outlets are also part of thius big conspiracy.

If nothing else this experience show that in this 24 hour global village that we live in,it is almost impossible to maintain a news blackout.The fact that it lasted 10 weeks is remarkable in itself.

The fact that is was broken by Matt Drudge in the States shows the problems that the established media have in supporting any sort of control.

John Williams writes on the BBC editors site that

At its simplest, journalism is about telling people things they don't know. So when the Ministry of Defence approached the BBC - along with other parts of the UK media - to ask us not to tell our audiences about a possible deployment of Prince Harry to Afghanistan, it was something we thought long and hard about.

Adding that

So, for the past ten weeks, the BBC, ITV and Sky News have been filming with Prince Harry - the first time we've been up close and personal with him. We interviewed him at Clarence House in mid-December, just before he was sent to Afghanistan, we spent some time with him at the start of January when he was settling in at a remote base in Southern Helmand Province, and most recently, we filmed with him last week at a new location in Helmand Province.

We don't do this stuff lightly - there are no other "voluntary agreements" in place at the moment, there's nothing else we're not telling you. Until yesterday, only a handful of people in the BBC knew about the story - trust me, keeping secrets from other journalists is hard work!

Interestly though Adrian Monck tells us that back on 7th Jan,an Australian magazine reported

Prince Harry has joined his regiment on a covert mission to Afghanistan and his unit has already seen front line action.
Not seen in public since the middle of December, New Idea can exclusively reveal that despite opposition from senior members of the British government and the royal family itself, Harry now joins his uncle Prince Andrew as a royal who has been to war.

So how secret was this?

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