Saturday, September 04, 2004
Letter to Michael Getler, WaPo ombudsman
Karl Vick's article "12 Nepalese Hostages are slain in Iraq" gave only 7 brief paragraphs to the murder of the 12 Nepalese hostages. There was a great deal more that could have been said, and that needed to be said.
Vick simply reports what the "Jordanian employer" (unnamed) says: that the Nepalese were "cooks and cleaners." This was then reinforced the following day when the Post ran a Reuters article "Nepalese riot after killings in Iraq."
A radical group said Tuesday that it had killed the 12 Nepalese hostages who had gone to Iraq to work as cooks and cleaners for a Jordanian firm.
Were these articles meant to inform or to disinform? The slightest bit of research on the internet would have revealed that these Nepalese could not possibly be "cooks and cleaners." They were mercenaries hired to help the private security forces, unless cooks and cleaners in Iraq are now being paid $2500 a month.
In terms of informing the public, this is a very important distinction. The public is being misled into believing that the situation on the ground in Iraq is much better than it is, and that, somehow, reconstruction is ongoing. This perception was reinforced by the ending of the standoff in Najaf. The press was so focussed on this single situation that it has obscured all the other "situations" that are ongoing in Iraq.
Misleading the public as to progress in Iraq is also to mislead the public on a matter that may affect a number of people's votes in November.
I have posted a blog on the Nepalese at http://simplyappalling.blogspot.com/2004/09/about-those-nepalese-workers-killed-in.html. Please pass it along to Mr. Vick.