On the Media: Access Denied

Talk Tuesday 8th September, 2009

Fighting in Gaza and Sri Lanka and the recent unrest in Iran all raised questions about how journalists can do their job when governments deny access.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have also provoked concern that the Ministry of Defence is aided in the task of managing the flow of information by the fact that it is frequently impossible for journalists to reach and report from the frontline of the conflict.
What challenges do conflicts such as those in Gaza and Sri Lanka earlier this year throw up, as well as the recent troubles in Iran, where Western journalists have been barred?
Mobile phones, Twitter and email have provided invaluable information but their use not only throws up challenges for established practice in newsgathering, it also raises questions about what happens when new media tools aren’t readily available, such as in Sri Lanka when thousands of people fled and many were killed and injured during fighting between government troops and the Tamil Tigers.
With the Israeli government relying more and more on public relations management and an increasingly sophisticated use of new media to get its message across, what is the role of the journalist in 21st century conflicts?