One line of the Feb. 2 book review "The 20th century's most disastrous drive for rural utopia" on Philip Short's new book, "Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare," caught my attention: "The global silence over what was happening was similar to that during the Jewish holocaust." Some of us did warn the world what was going to happen in Cambodia if the Communists, especially the Khmer Rouge, won the war there.
US Foreign Service Officer Kenneth Quinn (later the first US ambassador to the new government), wrote a "Secret" level report on "The Khmer Khrahom in S.E. Cambodia" in 1974. I was sitting in an office at the National Security Council in Washington, asking for information about the Khmer Rouge for a book I was putting together, when Mr. Quinn's report came over the teletype and the NSC officer showed it to me.
I compared what I had learned during a short stay in Cambodia as a journalist (fall, 1970) with what I had gathered since, and it all pointed to genocide. I was able to get the Quinn document declassified fairly quickly and twice entered it into congressional testimonies I gave before the House International Relations Committee (1974) and the House Armed Services Committee (April 15, 1975).
Ken Quinn, I, and others tried to get people to listen to our warnings of "never again," but we were ignored, thrust aside, and silenced by the peace-at-any-price crowd. "Never again" became "again" in Rwanda and then Iraq.
Regarding the Feb. 2 article "Are bloggers journalists? Do they deserve press protections?": The First Amendment does not distinguish between John Hinderaker, the blogger who broke the Rathergate story, and Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass, two disgraced traditional journalists with editors, publishers, and hundreds of colleagues.
The flip side of press protection is press privileges - namely, credentials. Access to newsmaking events separates bloggers from traditional journalists. Without credentials, it's hard for a blogger to get the story, let alone get it right. The credentialing process is used to stifle competition by questioning an applicant's "legitimacy." By contrast, the blogosphere is open to anyone who has a newsworthy story to tell. And isn't that, after all, the definition of a journalist?
My online community of readers - not old-media gatekeepers - will be the ultimate arbiters of my credibility as a citizen journalist.
Faye M. Anderson
This article on bloggers, as well as other recent problems with truth and accuracy in journalism, points out the need for some form of certification of those claiming to be journalists. Obviously, such certification would have to be self-regulated - that is, without government control. However, it would have to allow courts to rule whether violations of the terms of certification had occurred and to hold such violators accountable. Also, the public would be made aware of what certification means so that it can judge whether to believe what anyone says.
Is this an infringement on the First Amendment? Not at all, as long as the certification authority is separate from the government.
With today's technology, we've really only expanded on the idea of Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park. Anyone is free to speak whatever one wishes there. The Internet makes this activity easier and more far-reaching. If journalists as a group say an individual can be believed, then the audience can be reasonably assured that what is being said is reliable.
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