The "Daniel Pearl Standard of Responsible Journalism"

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Daniel Pearl, the journalist who was murdered in 2002. Source: Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Source: Getty Images

Almost six years to the day after Daniel Pearl was killed, brutally, by terrorists in Pakistan I was a bit surprised to see his father writing in the Wall Street Journal this morning (the same paper his son reported for). More than a memorial for the son he calls, "Danny," Judea Pearl explains just how much really changed that day, and not just for the Pearls:

This new twist of killing journalists for what they represent has changed the course of journalism as well as the rest of society.... His murder proved that 9/11 was not an isolated event, and helped resurrect the age-old ideas of right and wrong, good and evil. Moral relativism died with Daniel Pearl in January 2002.

And Mr. Pearl honors his son with what he calls the "Daniel Pearl Standard of Responsible Journalism:"

To distinguish true from false journalism, just choose any newspaper or TV channel and ask yourself when was the last time it ran a picture of a child, a grandmother or any empathy-evoking scene from the "other side" of a conflict.

Read his full column in today's Wall Street Journal. We'll talk with Judea Pearl today about the standard he's proposing, about the role of journalists today, and about the memory of his son, Daniel.



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With all due respect to Mr Pearl and symphaty for his loss, but it seems to me that he is exploiting the situation to promote tired pro-Israeli lines.

Those Palestinians are so "deceitful"... we should give them an Oscar for their acting capabilities... they sure play dead well...

Mr. Pearl's comments about Palestinians shoved in ambulances in front of cameras, the let out dancing when cameras are gone is extremely offensive.

Indeed, stations like Al Jazeera cover more images of Palestinian victims, however that is due primarily to the fact that no one.. and I mean no one in the west covers that human tragedy. Fact is an explosion in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem gets all headlines in the US, daily killings of Palestinians in the occupied lands rarely make the news here.

It's a good thing that Mr. Pearl is able to keep the memory of his son alive in various media outlets.. his story will go on.. Hollywood already made a movie.. there will be many memorials, books, etc...

Do tell, when was the last time we saw such coverage of one Palestinian casuality...

Sent by Randy | 3:57 PM | 1-30-2008

I cried when Daniel Pearl was killed. It was horrible and i extend my condolences to his family.
However, it is incorrect to equate the situation of Israel and the Palestinians. Israel is the oppressor in the situation; the numbers are not equal. Israel has have created an apartheid-like situation: taken land and other resources put up roadblocks; they kill people at will including women and children. Besides, the news frequently covers attacks on settlers (who have stolen palestinian land)in a sympathetic manner! But the point is lots more palestinians are killed and attacked than israelis.

Sent by ariana | 3:59 PM | 1-30-2008

In spite of the number of empathetic stories Mr. Perl has seen concerning Palestinians in Israeli media, at the end of the day the net effect has been the asymmetric oppression of one people by another. So what's the point.

Terribly sorry for Mr. Perl's loss. By all accounts his son was a fine person. This, however is not a productive contribution to solving this problem.

Sent by Mark Baustian | 4:01 PM | 1-30-2008

When Judea Pearl responded to "Sammy", a caller who identified himself as a Palestinian Muslim, I wished the focus would not have shifted to whether one side or another is a transgressor, but would have remained on journalistic ethics.

The "Daniel Pearl Standard of Responsible Journalism" should be applied to all sources of information, Israeli and Palestinian, The New York Times and Al Jazeera, and so on around the world.

As to American journalism, in the 2004 election I was extremely dismayed by the behavior of "journalists" in outing a CIA agent and fanning the flames of fear and hatred by promoting Lee Atwater-ish "stories" like that of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, that I created my own word to describe the phenomenon.

My word is "bignorism". It represents ignorance that is perpetuated by bigotry (not simply racial bigotry, but an extreme refusal to consider other points of view) and raised to the level of a religion.

For 35 years, as a Social Studies teacher, I strove to help students (and, with their help, myself) become more rational about human behavior, but in 2004 it felt at times as if it were all for nought. Even mainstream journalists were, I believe, guilty of cowardice in rebutting the Rush Limbaugh types who show so little integrity.

When journalists strive to ensure their profession not be co-opted by zealots, and when citizens strive to put emotions on hold long enough to analyze information sources for bias, there will be fewer cases of mutual intransigence that lead to violence.

Sent by Phill Laursen | 5:35 PM | 1-30-2008

I was extremely disappointed to read Judea Pearl's article in the Wall Street Journal. By accusing France 2, a reputed television network of fabricating evidence of Mohammad al Dura being killed, he is making a very serious allegation that is not only unsubstantiated but also indicating of total indifference towards the tragedy of al Dura and his family. Coming from a man who himself lost his own son, that kind of blase indifference beggars belief.

The same could be said about the portion of his article when he dismisses the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza as nothing more than a Hamas progaganda plot.

Does he realize how ironic it is that he should talk of responsible journalism while trivializing the suffering of others ?

Sent by Suhail | 5:32 PM | 2-10-2008

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