This week, my post will be somewhat more prosaic for two reasons: the realisation that many news sites are hiring cheap labour which is reflected in the poor quality of their articles (making me wonder if in the future we will still have real reporters); and the media's astonishing reaction, or lack thereof, to North Korea's threat. As Wolf Blitzer would say: what's going on?
Reporters or Text Writers?
The Gatestone Institute noted how little attention the media bestows upon North Korea's nuclear activities “how strange that most major news outlets have never reported that North Korea already has nuclear-armed missiles that can strike the U.S.” but what's even odder is to read the work of a young reporter (by the way, a Student of English Lit at the UCL) for Newsweek, saying that North Korea did not have the capability to manufacture “nuclear weapons small enough to fit on a missile” since “international experts” doubted such capability and therefore they were not able to strike another country – it would be interesting to know exactly whom those international experts are because if they missed the amount of information out there about North Korea's nuclear activities then they shouldn't be called experts but propagandists.
We don't know who are Mirren Gidda's sources but we'd suggest Newsweek to actually edit their contributors' work and do some fact-check before publishing, because this young 'professional' isn't quite sure whether she's a reporter or a blogger. A Blogger, in disrepute, can afford to make such mistakes; but a reporter shouldn't be allowed to sit at home, read online news sites and then produce texts based on them without doing some research of her/his own.
So, what is going on here? News sites seem to be doing three things:
- Hiring young motivated college kids (regardless of their major, with their eyes on the money, 'fame' or resume building) who can't tell the difference between a news article, a blog post and a school paper
- Sacrificing the quality of their pages in exchange for cheap labour
- Losing their credibility as a result.
North Korea Remains a Threat
In 2015, the US Congress heard testimonies that North Korea had achieved a long-range missile capability to strike the US back in 2012 (when NK put a satellite in orbit to see if it could carry "its payload a long distance" which it did). It also heard Admiral William Gortney saying “we assess that they [North Koreans] have the ability, they have the weapons, and they have the ability to miniaturize those weapons, and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can range the [U.S.] homeland." (quoted here) – therefore, whom did the North Koreans collaborate with to gain the ability to miniaturise weapons?
In February 2013, reports said that Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, travelled to North Korea to observe their Feb 12 nuclear test (of an alleged miniaturised device). It should be noted that Mr Mahabadi is the head of the Iranian miniaturisation programme (i.e. the programme seeking to miniaturise a nuclear warhead in order to be placed in a ballistic missile) which is a huge red flag. At the end of February, it was reported that there is evidence that Tehran is developing a plutonium-based nuclear weapon, in Arak - a heavy-water production plant, activated in January, from which "IAEA inspectors have been barred for eighteen months now" - North Korea: Iranian Proxy and Lab Test
It is thus very interesting that, in 2016, the media still finds it fit to either ignore or downplay North Korea's nuclear advances and its relationship with Iran's nuclear programme. We should ask ourselves whether the media does so because it hires ignorant young individuals, posing as reporters, who can't bother to do a proper research; or because its strings are being pulled for either ideological purposes or political expedience.
(Image: Bather - Edgar Degas)