As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Why Is Current Taking No Heat Over Euna Lee And Laura Ling?

I suspected this to be the case.

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 4 -- One woman approached China's border with North Korea as a seasoned foreign correspondent, the other as a sharp editor who was on her first trip abroad in her new role as a producer.

I knew Euna Lee as an editor. Her first producing assignment was to go to... North Korea? And the only possible reason for that is that she spoke Korean and grew up in Seoul.

This is not to say that she's not a smart person, or that she is overly aggressive. And yes, someone fluent in Korean would be helpful in chronicling the story. But in the field, the producer makes the decisions. The "seasoned foreign correspondent" does not. And so Current TV sent a first-time producer to perhaps the most dangerous place on Earth. They played on her ambition and figured just anyone who spoke Korean and who they could pay cheaply would do. And when things went catastrophically wrong, they shut their traps about it and censored material on their website. Now that they've been released, it's a Laura Ling film festival on Current.

(That whole "seasoned foreign correspondent" thing about Laura Ling, by the way? I've seen a couple segments. One has her walking through a 7-11 shop in China picking out different snacks. The story they were sent to do in the border region was about human trafficking. That's several orders of magnitude different.)

The "citizen journalist" model is great and all, but air-dropping unseasoned people into war zones and giving them none of the resources to succeed produces outcomes like this. And it's completely unfair to the two women, who were brave in their ordeal. You have to blame the management decision to send them there. They treat their staff like spare parts, giving them no training or resources, and send them abroad to essentially poke a bear with a sharp stick.

This is not an uninformed armchair opinion, by the way. I know people at Current. OSHA should step in.

...All that said, John Bolton should have offered to serve a substitute sentence of 12 years hard labor in a prison camp if he wants to keep his country's manly neocon manliness intact. I'm sure nobody would miss him.

How obvious was it that Fred Hiatt would ring up Bolton to write an op-ed about this?

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