October 22, 2005

Rafik Hariri, the Mehlis Report, and Traditional Media

There is a crisp and clear difference between traditional media and internet media. It is the most obvious thing in the world, yet it is baffling.

According to Google News, there are more than 3400 news articles on the internet about the U.N. commissioned Mehlis Report that was released on Thursday. The report implicates Lebanese and Syrian Military Intelligence in the assassination of recent Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. It is a report on one of the most dramatic and pivotal scandals of modern times.

3400 news articles posted on the Internet does not necessarily make good internet media. Yes, there is variety: the best articles are written by diligent reporters who read the report and try to summarize it neturally for global readers. The worst articles are patched together from second-hand sources and full of ill-informed commentary, opinion, speculation, conspiracy theories, pandering, even threats and incitement.

But among them all I could not find a single news article that linked to the actual Mehlis report. I find this lack of links distasteful, almost criminal. This traditional media habit of standing guard between the readers and the original sources is not acceptable in 2005. The way the world fragments over events like Hariri's death is not about ego or profit: it is the hinge between war and peace. Information flow in these moments in history will determine the future for whole populations.

The original Mehlis report, of course, is posted on the UN website, and is available for anybody in the world to read. Why doesn't the news link out to it? Internet media is all about link flow. So link!

The 20 October 2005 Mehlis Report (download a printable pdf here). Read it for yourself.

Posted by David at October 22, 2005 04:04 PM

This story links to the UN report:

UN office doctored report on murder of Hariri

Posted by: Brian Slesinsky at October 22, 2005 07:55 PM
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