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May 24, 2012

Advocacy Journalism Means Never Having to Report What You Don't Want to Report

cnn iran pirate headline.jpg

We thought AFP's headline about Iran "saving" a ship from pirates was rather bad. Then we saw CNN's report.

AFP titled their story "Iran navy saves US freighter from pirates: report." The problem isn't so much that the report was published by a propaganda arm of the Iranian government, the state-run IRNA news agency. It's that the Iranian navy, according to this same article, might not have saved the ship at all.

Just after the AFP reporter announces that the incident was "the first time the Iranian navy protected a US ship from pirates," readers learn that the owners of the ship tell a very different story.

Maersk Line told AFP that its vessel, Maersk Texas, had "thwarted an attack by multiple pirate skiffs at noon local while transiting the Gulf of Oman, northeast of Fujairah" but denied it had been helped by the Iranian navy.

"Maersk Texas heard from the Iranian navy over radio to the initial distress call, but our vessel received no assistance from the Iranian navy," spokesman Kevin Steers said in an email sent to AFP in Washington.

That's some bad reporting and headline writing by AFP. But at least the French news agency bothered to mention the denial. The same can't be said for CNN.

Unlike AFP, CNN's headline didn't make clear that it's citing a report. Instead, it accepted as fact that Iran "chased off" the pirates. And in the CNN report itself, not a word is said about the denial by the shipper that Iran was involved in repelling the ship.

Posted by GI at May 24, 2012 02:40 PM


It turns out that this article is factually inaccurate. Ironic, given the fact that rules for posters is that posts be factual.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 24, 2012 05:11 PM

What exactly do you think is factually inaccurate about this article?

"The vessel’s distress call was first answered by the Iranian navy, Kevin Speers, senior director of marketing at Maersk Line.

Speers then clarified that Iran’s navy “provided guidance to the crew of the Maersk Texas by radio, but was never on scene."

While it is nice that Iran provided assistance, it would be quite a stretch to say they "saved" the Maersk Texas and an outright lie to claim they chased off the pirates. Seems like CAMERA is right on the mark.

Posted by: anon at May 26, 2012 12:40 AM

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