From a speech given by Robert Fisk, The Independent’s Middle East correspondent, to the fifth Al Jazeera annual forum on May 23:
Power and the media are not just about cosy relationships between journalists and political leaders, between editors and presidents. They are not just about the parasitic-osmotic relationship between supposedly honourable reporters and the nexus of power that runs between White House and state department and Pentagon, between Downing Street and the foreign office and the ministry of defence. In the western context, power and the media is about words – and the use of words.
It is about semantics.
It is about the employment of phrases and clauses and their origins. And it is about the misuse of history; and about our ignorance of history.
More and more today, we journalists have become prisoners of the language of power.
Fisk goes on to discuss the words and narratives inherited by journalists when reporting on conflict and war, and how this affects the media’s ability to challenge those in power if it is speaking the same language.