We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, August 25, 2012

An Unethical Record – Stratfor & the New York Times

Click here to access article by Chris Spannos from the NY Times eXaminer

This year old alternative newspaper that functions as "An antidote to the 'paper of record'" is providing with this article a major contribution to the examination of reporting of the NY Times and the increasing influence of Stratfor, a private intelligence agency, over its content. It reveals how Stratfor is wedded to powerful financial interests, therefore its influence on the NY Times is shaped accordingly.
Through NYT eXaminer’s (NYTX) participation in an investigative partnership organized by WikiLeaks we have had access to The Global Intelligence Files and found material that the Times should find significant. The material shows that Times journalists rely on Stratfor despite the company’s interests in advancing U.S. corporate and government dominance at home and abroad, enhancing government secrecy and eroding civil liberties. In addition, Stratfor maintains a perverse relationship with its informants, which is incongruent with the Times’ own standards for the treatment of sources. The Global Intelligence Files also highlight examples of Stratfor employees consciously manipulating journalists at the Times — some of whom seem all too willing to be led by the inauspicious Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company.
This development, in addition to their revelation of the fact that the NY Times regularly consults with government officials for clearance on sensitive issues, shows how much US journalism has degenerated into another facet of Empire control. It seems to me that Stratfor's relationship with the NY Times, and the latter's powerful influence over what is covered throughout US media, represents an increasing trend--the further deterioration of professional journalistic ethics in order to better serve powerful interests, particularly the interests of government and corporate secrecy.
In an era of reducing funds for investigative journalism, .... It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that Times journalists also rely on intelligence organizations such as Stratfor to provide quick and easy access to information and analysis that can form the basis of new articles by journalists. However, blind reliance by Times journalists on organizations beholden to corporate interests and with little regard for international law or ethics on the treatment of informants or sources cannot go unquestioned.