Thursday, January 21, 2010

NZ Herald: What War?

NZ SAS on the streets of KabulFollowing Monday's Al Qaeda attacks in Kabul and news that NZ SAS troops were the only Western forces on the scene, comes a photograph of two of those soldiers. The NZ Herald published it today, with both faces clearly visible [I've taken the liberty of hiding them – not difficult]: one of those was even named! What the...?!
Prime Minister John Key is very disappointed the pic was published without blurring the faces because it puts the men at risk: he calls it a poor editorial decision.
The NZ government typically adopts a policy of secrecy about SAS deployments, and I was of the impression that all media were under a "D.Notice" restricting SAS identification. Though I'm obviously mistaken, it makes common sense from an operational perceptive for newspaper editors to exercise discretion in this regard.
Just because one HAS a picture does not mean it MUST be used...or used in that form. Editors must remember that although Auckland – safe in the bosum of peaceful green Godzone – is 13,000km from the dusty dangerous streets of Kabul, information still flows. Remember the WWII adage: "Walls Have Ears"? Well, today, the bad guys have the internet. If this SAS team was ambushed and killed tomorrow because of NZ Herald indiscretion, I wonder if the editors would be crowing because they'd published "the last ever photo" of them?
PS: 23 January 2010 - The NZ Herald tries to dig itself out of a hole, sanctimoniously telling us it published SAS photos 'in the clear' because the public "has a right to know".
PS: 02 March 2010 - OMG! Today's front page NZ Herald headline: "17 Killed - Kiwis In Deadly Firefight"... complete with photo. But wait!! This time the editor decides to blur the NZ soldiers' faces!! So just what IS the NZ Herald policy? "We'll only publish an SAS pic 'in the clear' if a certain well-known soldier is in it"? Can the NZ Herald please be consistent?!
PS: 30 June 2011 - Following the injuring of two NZ SAS in a Taliban attack in Kabul, NZ Herald once again published an unmasked photo of our special forces troops...even though international media respected their need for secrey and did mask their pix!! WTF is wrong with NZ Herald???!!!
NZ SAS, as masked by UK's The Guardian...but printed in the clear
by NZ Herald! You can see the troops ain't happy about this!

1 comment:

Peter McCroft said...

Now the NZ SAS has finally lost a man in combat in Kabul, I wonder if the Herald will be rubbing its hand in glee, eagerly awaiting the name of the warrior, while searching thru its pix to see if they have "the last photo" of him.
Don't worry, guys, if you HAVEN'T got one, I'm sure you'll source it from overseas...and publish it 'in the clear'!
Clue: he was white-skinned, and was seen being carried out on a stretcher...