Journalists must take responsibility for their reporting on Iran

Blog: The Editors, 8 November 2011 | 1 Comment
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As the US, UK and Israel increasingly voice threats to attack Iran, mainstream journalists are doing little more than repeating the concerns, desires and messages from Whitehall and Washington. Despite many mentions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) evidence set to report that Iran is not producing nuclear warheads, the headlines and articles in much of the media have been misleading.

Please politely contact the journalists below, requesting that they take more of a responsibility in their work. Do not write in an aggressive manner - please maintain a respectful approach in all correspondence. Copy into any correspondence if you wish.

It may be worth mentioning some of the following in any correspondence. All of these journalists have:
(1) simply repeated the accusations of Whitehall and Washington and their desire for IAEA evidence to give the green light for an invasion;
(2) failed to question whether it is legally or morally correct to launch an invasion on Iran;
(3) produced articles citing Iran as the threat, even though all war threats to date have been made by the countries wishing to attack Iran;
(4) reported of dangerous findings in the IAEA reports, despite no conclusive evidence regarding the production of a bomb;
(5) failed to make any reference to US/UK historical interest in Iran, or to the country's importance in terms of oil resources, and;
(6) failed to make comparisons between the current accusations towards Iran and the accusations towards Iraq in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.

Further notes on the reporting of each of these journalists are in the table below. If you would like to suggest information to add to the list, please email us at or use the comments section of this page.

Further information about media reporting on Iran can be found in our article The Media Beats the War Drum for an Attack on Iran and our Eye on the News entries on Iran.

JournalistNewspaperJob TitleEmail Address
Con Coughlin The Telegraph Executive Foreign Editor

His reporting has called for "Obama to act now" against Iran. He has assumed that the IAEA when headed by Mohamed El Baradei "deliberately sought to obfuscate the true nature of Iran's nuclear activities", despite El Baradei having been a respected leader of the IAEA.

Coughlin has also decided that the "inescapable conclusion" from IAEA reports is that Iran wants to join "the exclusive club of nuclear-armed powers".

Is it the job of journalists to make calls for war?

Julian Borger The Guardian Diplomatic Editor

Despite noting in his articles that the IAEA report will not have a "smoking gun", Borger makes more of a case for Iran being guilty than not in his blog post and in his article on the 7 November. Headlines for his work have included IAEA due to expose Iranian nuclear weapons design and testing facility and Iran nuclear report: IAEA claims Tehran working on advanced warhead.

If there is "no smoking gun", why has this significant fact not been the focus of his reporting?

Ewen MacAskill The Guardian Washington DC Bureau Chief

Ewen MacAskill refers to any impending conflict as a problem for Obama's political career rather than a problem for people living in Iran in his article Is the US heading for war with Iran?.

Is Obama's political career what is at stake here? Historically, does the US passively "head for war" or does it actively pursue wars?

Alex Spillius The Telegraph Washington Correspondent

Spillius has accused Iran, but not the UK or US of "deception".

He reports that the IAEA report "will stop short of concluding that the regime is either building a bomb or has firmly decided to so" but the headline says that Iran ready and able to build a nuclear bomb, UN watchdog warns the world.

Why has his writing sought to inflate IAEA concerns, if the report does not conclude that the regime is building a bomb?

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Comments (1)

1. David Cromwell08 November 2011 15:27

Well done on this initiative - cogently and attractively put together. Excellent!

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