“The Call Which Ended My Relationship With Press TV”

Jody Sabral blows the lid on her former employers, Press TV, and their handling of the Syrian uprising. Press TV is an official Iranian news channel, and Sabral says her bosses are deliberately suppressing news from Syria and serving as nothing but the mullahs’ mouthpiece.

Thumbs up to Sabral, who 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.

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 couldn’t track down a video of the translator’s report, but I did find Press TV’s reaction to AFP.

Sabral also touches on the case of Maziar Bahari, the Newsweek journalist, who was arrested in Iran while covering the nation’s post-election unrest. Press TV had “interviewed” Bahari in prison with Bahari reading answers pre-prepared by interrogators. 

Britain’s media regulatory body, Ofcom, ruled in May that the interview took place without Bahari’s consent; curiously no sanctions have been imposed yet.

Read the whole thing. (Hat tip: Harry’s Place)