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Panpa Bulletin : March 2006
12 | PaNPa bUlletiN March 2006 NeWS reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Bor- ders) called on the United States government to free two journalists it said were being un- justly held at a US prison in Iraq, and at the US military base in Guantanamo, Cuba. RSF said in a report that the two journalists, along with others arrested in Iraq by the US, mainly on suspicion of collaborating with insurgents, had not been tried or even charged with anything after months of incarceration. Abdel Amir Yunes Hussein, of CBS TV network's program CBS News, has been held at the Camp Bucca prison in Iraq since April last year, while Sami Al-Hajj, a cameraman for the pan-Arab sat- ellite TV station Al-Jazeera, has been a prisoner in Guantanamo since 2002, after being arrested in Afghanistan in 2001. "These journalists have been denied justice and not allowed to see family or lawyers," Reporters Without Borders said. "This is un- acceptable. We call on the US au- thorities to break their silence and reveal the evidence they claim to have of their involvement in ille- gal activities." The organisation said it was making requests to the US De- partment of Defense under the Freedom of Information Act, each concerning a journalist still in jail or recently freed. It also appealed to members of the US Congress to continue their efforts to promote human rights in Iraq, especially press freedom, and is writing to several senators and members of the House of Representatives, asking them to reiterate their stand against imprisonment of journalists in the US. From Pacific MediaWatch Online, http://www.pmw.c2o.org. When the US imprisons journalists following last year's embar- rassing publication of a false story on spying, Fairfax NZ are about to launch a code of good practice for journalists. Warren Page reports Fairfax New Zealand editorial staff will soon receive a compre- hensive code of good practice as a guideline on how to deal with a wide range of ethical and profes- sional issues. The company's editorial devel- opment manager and a former editor, Clive Lind, will report prog- ress on his preparation of the code at the Fairfax editors' conference in Auckland this month. The com- pleted code should be distributed later this year. Lind told the PANPA Bulletin that the code would help editors and journalists by giving practical advice that would allow them to better work within the journalists' code of ethics. The code of good practice would also alert them to high-risk situations that perhaps they were unfamiliar with. issues covered by the code include: > Safeguards for dealing with anonymous sources > Clarifying what is on the record and what is off the record, and what those terms mean > Conflict of interest > Plagiarism > Working on major and sensitive investigative stories > Whose job is it to check the facts? > Defining the term 'public interest' Lind consulted editors, and re- ferred to existing codes, guidelines and reports in New Zealand and overseas as part of his preparation. He anticipates annual revisions of the hard copy and electronic copy of the code to take account of law changes and practical experience within the Fairfax group and the industry generally. Care will be taken to provide an easy to use in- dex for quick navigation through material in the code. The code will be a guide, allow- ing room for individual newsroom styles and practice. Lind cites as an example, the publication of swear words and foul language in direct quotes. Some newspapers now use them, others don't. Preparation of the code was among recommendations made following an internal investiga- tion into the Sunday Star-Times being caught, despite checks, by three sources who invented in- formation about New Zealand Security Intelligence Service allegedly spying upon Maori organisations. The newspaper published the story last Novem- ber but soon discovered it had been hoaxed. Official investigation by the In- spector-General of New Zealand Intelligence and Security, Justice Neazor, subsequently found there was no such spying. (See PANPA Bulletin, page 10, November/De- cember 2005). fairfax NZ develop editorial code Prisoners at guantanamo: neWSPIx