Richard Whittall:

“The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer has helped me immensely with great information and perspective.”


Bob Bradley, former US and Egyptian national coach

"James Dorsey’s The Turbulent World of Middle Eastern Soccer (has) become a reference point for those seeking the latest information as well as looking at the broader picture."
Alon Raab in The International Journal of the History of Sport

“Dorsey’s blog is a goldmine of information.”

Play the Game

"Your expertise is clearly superior when it comes to Middle Eastern soccer."
Andrew Das, The New York Times soccer blog Goal

"Dorsey statement (on Egypt) proved prophetic."
David Zirin, Sports Illustrated

"Essential Reading"
Change FIFA

"A fantastic new blog'
Richard Whitall of A More Splendid Life

"James combines his intimate knowledge of the region with a great passion for soccer"
Christopher Ahl, Play the Game

"An excellent Middle East Football blog"
James Corbett, Inside World Football


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Assumptions are a journalist’s Achilles Heel


In reporting terrorist incidents like Friday’s massacre and bombing in Norway, we journalists violate a cardinal rule of the profession: report the facts, never assume.

The facts as they became clear over many hours never bore out the assumption fueled by pundits and terrorism experts with a vested interest in keeping their industry alive in the wake of the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the marginalization of Al Qaeda that Islamists were responsible for the deaths in Oslo.
To be sure, the facts did not prove the opposite either. But instinctively it had to be jihadists, isn’t it?

No matter that reports of the arrest of a blonde, blue-eyed suspect emerged early on. He had to be a convert to Islam.

To be sure, the modus operandi of the Norwegian attacks had certain characteristics similar to past Al Qaeda operations: professional, deadly, multiple locations, high profile targets.

It didn’t matter that attacking a youth camp does not fit Al Qaeda’s modus operandi and that random killings are part of what has marginalized the group -- something that has dawned on the group.

The assumption fed our prejudices and has now proven wrong.

Assumptions stop us from fully weighing all available facts and making judgments exclusively on what we know and not on what we don’t know and therefore assume.

In doing so, we become our worst enemy and fail to meet our obligation to report the facts as we know them and build our analysis on those facts and only those facts.

Failing to do so takes us away from fulfilling our role of serving the public interest and holding others accountable. It undermines our claim to independence and non-regulation as the fourth estate.

In short, it makes us a party with a vested interest, no better than the pundits and authorities pushing a specific line, using the media to further their interests and hoping that we buy into the spin. 

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