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Why Jody Sabral Left Biased Press TV

by | 18th, November 2011

JODY Sabral was a reporter on absurdly biased Press TV, the Iranian state broadcaster. She left. Why?

Sabral writes:

My four-year relationship ended with Press TV on October 17, mainly because there has been a deliberate attempt to suppress information on the Syrian uprising. It’s one thing to take a position on the news you report, but it’s another to completely ignore a story of interest to the public. It’s well known that Iran politically backs the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, but I was shocked to learn of the extent to which Press TV could be used to propagate propaganda.

Shocked?

After months of ignoring the Syrian opposition, the day finally came when Press TV called me to cover something. As thousands of Syrian refugees poured into Turkey to escape the violence across the border, a newsroom producer called asking whether I could go to the refugee camps close to the Turkish-Syrian border. I asked the producer about Press TV’s editorial position on the story. “We’re not denying there is a crackdown going on in Syria but we believe Turkey is gun running into the country to create a Libyan-style civil war,” he said.

When I asked what our source was, he couldn’t answer, and instead he replied: “Turkey will do anything to get into the EU.” It was a laughable response and I obviously refused to go. The next day, to my horror, I watched as a young Turkish translator with no reporting experience appeared on TV covering one of the world’s most critically watched news stories. This was incredibly irresponsible. The translator, who I had worked with before, had no background in journalism and was easily manipulated while live on air to fit with the narrative coming out of Tehran, which had evolved into a denial of AFP reports that Iranian snipers were firing on Syrian demonstrators. This report went out to millions of viewers. You have to ask, what kind of alternative information is this?

I have now come to realise instead of a newly launched news channel living up to its aspirations, Press TV is slowly being taken over by an ideology that merely defends a specific agenda. Experienced journalists with news training eventually come unstuck with editorial policy, a policy that can never be explained because it changes with Iranian politics, which can be quite schizophrenic. “We get a yes in Tehran, then when we return to Ankara, the yes becomes a no,” a spokesman from Turkey’s foreign ministry told a room full of journalists in Istanbul during the nuclear fuel swap negotiations in 2010…

I soon set about writing a novel Changing Borders, hoping to somehow make sense of what was going on.  The book, a portrait of Turkey, addresses lightly its relationship with Iran. It also touches on how Iran taps into Western liberals’ anti-intervention sentiment to garner support in the information war. I may once have thought along the same lines, I have to admit. This is an easy trap to fall into. Next time you blindly back an alternative voice such as Press TV because it suits your own political view, take a moment to question the quality of that information.

Well, that’s the case with all broadcaster – at least Press TV’s bias is blatant…

 



Posted: 18th, November 2011 | In: Reviews Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink