Friday, September 14, 2012

So You Wanna Be A Journalist?

Test yourself! 

Here are five quick questions to see if you've got what it takes!

1. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has stated that the US-lead invasion of Iraq, a "pre-emptive" attack based on fabricated evidence of non-existent WMDs, was "illegal". Was it really illegal, and is it OK to say that in print?

a. Of course it was illegal and it's not just OK to print that, in fact journalists have a moral obligation to do so.

b. It may or may not have been legal, it's hard to say. But I wouldn't use the word "illegal" (in case my news outlet got sued).

c. The USA got a UN Resolution before they attacked, didn't they? So I believe it was legal.

d. The US President said it was legal. That's good enough for me.

2. Watch (if you haven't already seen it) this video of the "Collateral Murder" incident, in which a Reuters cameraman, his colleague and other innocent civilians are killed by a US helicopter attack. Is this murder, or a War Crime, or both, or neither?

a. Both.

b. Murder, but not a War Crime - murder is justified du‌ring war time.

c. A War Crime, but not murder - murder is a legal definition which does not apply during war.

d. Neither. This was a legitimate military operation.

3. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been awarded the 2009 Amnesty International UK Media Award, the 2010 Sam Adams Award, the 2011 Matha Gelhorn Prize For Journalism, a 2011 Walkleys Award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, plus other awards. But is he really a journalist?

a. Of course he is, and his work with WikiLeaks puts other news agencies to shame.

b. While some of what Assange has done might be called journalism, WikiLeaks mostly just cut-and-pastes data from anonymous sources. So not really.

c. Gosh darn it, it's so hard to figure this one out! I'll just have to wait and see what the US Grand Jury says.

d. Of course he isn't a journalist! He's an enemy combatant who supports terrorists!

4. An anonymous source has just given you half a million highly confidential US government files. You have confirmed that the data is legitimate. What do you do next?

a. Redact any information that may harm innocent people, store backup versions in secure locations, then publish the information on the Internet.

b. Send a copy to the US State Department and ask them to retract whatever they like before it gets published.

c. Contact Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger or former NYT editor Bill Keller and ask for advice.

d. Destroy the information, then help the US government track down the whistle-blower.

5. Guardian editors and other news sources have repeatedly claimed that Julian Assange stated "informants deserve to die" while refusing to redact names from US government cables. Assange insists he never said it, and his denial is supported by a journalist from Der Spiegel who was also in the room at the time. So did he say it or not?

a. Assange has proven himself to be far more trustworthy than any of the media organisations smearing him. There's no reason not to believe Assange's version of events.

b. There's no way of knowing the truth, so both sides should just forget the whole thing.

c. He probably did say it, but it was probably just a mistake. I hear he's a bit unstable. He should probably apologise.

d. Of course he said it. The media have exposed him as a vainglorious, lying fool. Nobody can believe a word Assange says.


For every question where you picked A, score 0 points. If you picked B or C, score 5 points. If you picked D, score a maximum 10 points.

So do YOU have what it takes to be a journalist? Your score interpreted:

0-9 points:

Sorry, kid. You obviously don't understand how media works. But good luck with that crazy blog or whatever.

10-40 points:

You obviously have some interest in current affairs, but you lack real analytical talent. You might want to consider a career in marketing or public relations instead.

41-50 points:
Give me a hug. Let me attach myself to your leg and hold on tight. We're going all the way to the top, baby! We'll talk salary packages in the morning.