Manchester bombing: Why the ‘New York Times’ should not be blamed for printing leaked information

Manchester bombing: Why the ‘New York Times’ should not be blamed for printing leaked information

An editor’s first instinct is always to publish. And the news executives at the New York Times would not have had to think too long and hard about the ethical issues when images from the investigation into the Manchester bombing landed on their desks.

It would have been a very different matter had the leak been to a paper in Manchester or London, where the shock of what happened is palpable and the sense of hurt and harm is very close to home – even among journalists hardened to atrocities such as this. But even here, the imperative to publish would have been strong, and the images have been carried by the British press.

Once, it may have been possible to contain a leak of this nature. But in today’s news environment – where traditional news organisations are competing with new media players – it is no longer feasible for the authorities to appeal to the “better nature” of journalists in the interests of “the public good”.

Editors will be conscious of appeals to stay their hand in matters of national security – but within the boundaries of sovereign nations. Making an appeal of this nature to a publication in a different jurisdiction – and one like the United States where press freedom is enshrined in the constitution – is much more difficult.

Stopping the spill

Once a leak has happened, it is impossible to contain the spill. If the New York Times had not published, someone else would have. And they may have done it in a way that was more disrespectful to the bereaved and injured; and in a manner that sensationalised the material.

In a free society, leaks will always be one of the sources news organisations rely on for their stories. Gone are the days when a chancellor of the exchequer would feel impelled to resign because he had mentioned an item in the budget to a journalist when he was on his way to deliver it, as Hugh Dalton did in 1947.

Indeed, leaks now have a special status of their own in the news agenda – leaks by the likes of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden had a greater impact on the news agenda than the work of many a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

Legitimate source

From the editor’s perspective, of primary importance will be the need to be assured that the material is from a legitimate source. In this case – where the information appears to have come from official intelligence sources – the New York Times will have been easily satisfied about the veracity of the material.

The motivation for the leak will also have been taken into consideration. Journalists know that sometimes they are being used. In this case, the motivation is still unclear. And on the face of it, it looks like the material was being shared just because it could be. Even if, as an editor, you know you are being played as part of a bigger game, you might well decide to go to press in any case if the information is clearly in the public interest.

Far removed from the scene of this particular crime, the New York Times will have been less concerned about the impact its story will have had on those who are suffering after this atrocity. A British editor would have almost certainly have considered the issues about intrusion on grief, which is covered by the IPSO editor’s code.

They will certainly have been swayed by concern over the impact on the investigation. But they would also be conscious that if the material is out there someone will use it.

Only those close to the victims will be able to say whether this adds to their sense of loss or not. In many cases, families want to know everything they can – sometimes it is a way of sharing the pain of the loved one they have lost. A vacuum is often worse.

Public interest

In terms of the public interest – this is undoubtedly one of those cases where the need to know is not driven by prurience or the desire for salacious gossip. The importance of the story is perhaps less in what it says about the bomber and his crime, but more about the fitness of international intelligence agencies to meet the threat of terrorism.

It also tells us much about the relationship between Britain and America – particularly as the leak came after home secretary Amber Rudd’s blunt warning over the leaking of the bomber’s name.

And it reveals a dysfunctional relationship between those charged – on both sides of the Atlantic – with keeping us safe and secure. In bringing that to public light, the New York Times may well have done us all a service. This is a faultline in the fight against terror that needs to be fixed.

The ethical dilemma here rests not with the press, but with the people who decided to share intelligence that had been given to them in confidence. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Tom Collins, Professorial Teaching Fellow, Communications, Media and Culture, University of Stirling.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.

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Trump tweets “money is beginning to pour in” to NATO

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday that NATO alliance allies are already stepping up their contributions to the organisation, two days after the president scolded members for not spending enough on defence.

“Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in -NATO will be much stronger,” Trump tweeted from Sicily where he is attending a Group of Seven meeting.

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Sachin: A Billion Dreams Movie Review: It Coasts Along on the Strength of Nostalgia, Familiarity

Image result for Sachin: A Billion Dreams Movie Review: It Coasts Along on the Strength of Nostalgia, FamiliarityIt’s a tricky thing reviewing a film that celebrates the life and career of one of the most loved sportsmen this country has produced. Because fans tend to have trouble making a distinction between the film and the man. Which means any criticism of the film, any attempt on your part to point out its shortcomings will inevitably be misread as criticism of its famous subject.

Told you it wasn’t easy being a critic!

Sachin: A Billion Dreams faithfully chronicles every major milestone in the career of cricketing god Sachin Tendulkar, from his debut at 16 in international cricket to his retirement from the sport four years ago. It’s a journey that’s been obsessively followed and documented, hence not a lot of this is stuff you haven’t seen before. Then there is the matter of Sachin’s reluctance to address the controversies you’re interested in.

The film acknowledges that there were tensions in the dressing room when Sachin replaced Mohammed Azharuddin as captain, but the master blaster himself reveals no details. On the prickly issue of the match-fixing scandal, he expresses disappointment and shock but refrains from any constructive discussion on the incident. It’s only in the case of Greg Chappell that Sachin commits to anything by way of a firm response, describing the former coach’s style as “divide and rule”, and squarely blaming him for the team’s poor performance in the 2007 World Cup.

He’s more expressive when it comes to sharing his own vulnerabilities and failures. His rough patch on the field, his debilitating injuries and their impact on his game, and of course his ill-fated stints as captain. Emotion runs strong when he speaks about his father’s passing, and about his continuing efforts to live his life in the way that his father recommended.

The film’s real treasure is the footage of Sachin Tendulkar in his private moments: holding his baby daughter Sara for the first time, holidays with the family, hanging out with his friends, training with his son Arjun. It is unguarded moments like these, many accompanied by revealing interviews of family and friends that help piece together the jigsaw puzzle that is Sachin, the man behind the legend.

Like his wife Anjali recounting the time after their marriage that he made it clear that only one of them could work. Or his telling her, quite firmly, that he wouldn’t change the baby’s diapers. Another unexpected revelation comes from a childhood friend who names the Bappi Lahiri track that is Sachin’s comfort music.

Director James Erskine’s patchwork quilt of significant moments from Sachin’s life includes a recreation of his childhood years with a cast of competent actors. This he melds with both incredible home videos and news footage from a storied career. Sachin’s achievements are placed in the context of India’s own modern history, and his rise and rise as one of the greatest icons of our time.

No matter how many times we’ve seen the clip, it’s impossible not to cheer at India’s 2011 World Cup Win, or choke up while watching Sachin deliver that heartfelt retirement speech at Wankhede. Sure there’s a lot more this film could’ve been, but it coasts along on the strength of nostalgia, familiarity, and our collective love for a man who’s name we turned into a chant.

I’m going with three out of five. Prepare for major gooseflesh.

Rating: 3 / 5

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Publisher reliance on tech providers is ‘insane’: A Digiday+ town hall with The Washington Post’s Jarrod Dicker

Jarrod Dicker, head of commercial product and tech at The Washington Post, joined members of Digiday+ on Slack for Town Hall Thursday. Digiday editors and Digiday+ members discussed with Dicker the Post’s investment into ad tech, integrating technology into all aspects of the newsroom and how Jeff Bezos influences the Post’s approach to everything from platforms to ad tech.

Become a member of Digiday+ here. We hold Slack town halls every two weeks, and in between, we’ll have editorial chats and group discussions on industry topics. Please join us.

Here’s what you missed from our discussion with Dicker.

Experimentation is key.
“It may sound cliche, but we want every technology arm at the company to feel comfortable with taking risks inside and outside their scope of work. For us, the main thing was integrating tech throughout our entire organization; newsroom, sales, research. And through that, having technology influence how we execute in each pocket of business.”

Owning ad tech has several advantages.
“By building our own ad tech, we differentiate [ourselves] in the marketplace and we create that’s not currently out there. It allowed us to: one, save money on vendor costs and two, control the tech that powers our revenue. While it’s necessary to leverage outside tech, it’s actually insane how much dependence publishers had on third-party ad tech to drive their revenue. They forfeit too much control. [Having control] has allowed us to actually define what ‘good’ ad tech is; we build faster rendering systems, we have lighter experiences, we build tech that lets brands build publisher-style executions, etc.”

These technologies are not limited to the Post.
“Speaking for [Post R&D arm] Red, not one of those technologies are limited to the Post. For display (PostPulse), video (FlexPlay), performance (Zeus), instant (Fuse) et al, they are independent of the WP platform. For Red, think of WashPost as the breeding ground for building and stress testing these products. The goal is to influence the market and make everything available to anyone. The arc publishing suite has licensable technology built by Post development teams across organizations for white label use. The products are newsroom specific, brand specific, revenue specific, analytics, etc. We have 80-100 million UVs a month at a given time; it’s an excellent venue to test all product and see how we can change the market in multiple ways.”

The Bezos Effect is focus.
“There are a lot of Jeffisms (internal term for Jeff quotes) we use to motivate our focus. [Investing in ad tech] is a Bezos influence. Publishers need to invest in different teams in order to excel in this space. You don’t want it to distract your core business. While influenced by the organization, it needs to have its own arm in order to actually be valuable.”

Platforms are more than just immediate returns.
“The common theme is Jeff’s influence, and I think that’s allowed us to take an educational approach to platforms over an operational one. 90 per cent of the publishers are looking for immediate returns from Amp and Instant (usually greater than CPM). While we obviously care about those things, what’s more important to us is what we can learn from them and how we leverage those learnings to make our product and environment better. For example, PWA, Fuse, Zeus; all these products were influenced by platforms. And yes, we’re still on them and experimenting. The goal is to drive subs while leveraging FAN [Facebook Audience Network] and backfill to drive revenue on that extension.”

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