Thursday, September 28, 2006

9/28: 2. Ethics in Journalism: Tokyo Rose

The American woman convicted of being Tokyo Rose, and serving 6 years in prison for treason, died two days ago at the agr of 90. Someone posted an article on her today - the New York Times obit of her, I believe, and it's the first time I ever read the truth of the matter - that several women broadcast to the Americans, who lumped them all together as 'Tokyo Rose,' that this woman, Iva Toguri, was trapped in Japan, forced to do the broadcasts (she was called Orphan Ann), and tried to minimize the news she was forced to tell.

After the war she was questioned and released...but then Paul Winchell and others decided a scape goat needed to be found, and she was it. Arrested on charges of treason, she was convicted on the flimsiest of evidence and sent to jail. After she got out she had to fight attempts made to deport her. She was finally pardoned by Gerald Ford on his last day in office.

The background this gives on the lies told by the journalist profession, not to mention the government, is rather chilling. I confess to have been very naive up until just a few years ago - I assumed all journalists down throughuot time told the truth and didn't 'slant' their stories.

But of course that was never the case, and still less so is it today.

Which is all the more reason why people in genre publications owe it to their readers to say nothing about people, places or things that is not verifiably true. If rumors are quoted, they must be identified as rumors, instead of stated as if they were fact. (That's a sore point about a certain genre magazine publisher and his message boards - I won't mention his name. It's not the sci fi genre here, but a different one...funnily enough a genre I don't much care for, but the soap opera between various personages provided me with amusement for 10 years..)

There's a lot of misinformation out there. For example I'm looking for news events that took place in Feb 1953 for my next issue of The Sand Rock Sentinel. I went to the IMDB to see what movies were released during Feb, and they had some fun ones including the Disney Peter Pan. Then I went to Wikipedia and checked for events there...and 'they' say that the first 3D movie, Bwana Devil, was released in Feb 1953. wasn't!

Yes, that's a minor thing, a question of dates...but it just underlines that misinformation exists. Millions of people use the Wikipedia as a research source, little recking that *anyone* can go in and alter any entry. It's only been very recently that footnotes and references have been given... but still...

Anyway...that's the rant for today.

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