Reporting “claims”

Photo: The Daily Star

By now, everyone has heard about the reported assassination attempt on Free Patriotic Movement leader and former General Michel Aoun. Of course everyone has an opinion, but no one, not even the media, can confirm if it actually happened.

While The Daily Star quotes unnamed “security sources” that say shots were fired at his convoy, Nahrnet quotes unnamed “security sources” that say nothing happened.

Even Reuters, the world’s leading name in global news coverage, cannot verify events on the ground and has instead just opted to quote Aoun’s claim.

But this is not an isolated case. In fact the Reuters article in question mentions three other alleged assassination attempts on other Lebanese politicians qualifying each one with what someone else “said.” But how is that such a prestigious news gathering organization cannot verify these major events for itself?

Where is the reporting? Why are eyewitnesses and high level sources not interviewed and named? Reuters operates in some of the world’s most dangerous situations, but it cannot report on relatively peaceful Lebanon? Why is that?

The media’s job here and anywhere is to verify events on the ground and hold politicians accountable for the things they say. The media’s job is not to act as an echo chambers for speeches.

When reporters–both local and international– do not do check facts (or at least tell us why they cannot), citizens will choose to believe whatever truths are convenient to their political views. Aoun supporters will call him a hero willing to die for an endangered cause; his detractors will say the whole event is a fabrication to gain voter sympathy.  

Readers need to demand more from the media operating in Lebanon, both small local firms and prestigious award-winning multinational ones. 

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