Sunday, May 16, 2004

Journalistic "Ethics"

From Time:

Another day, another unmasked East German spy. That ho-hum attitude greeted news that Bernd Runge, the head of U.S. magazine publisher Condé Nast's German business, worked for the hated Stasi secret police as a young East German journalist in the 1980s. Last week two German magazines, Focus and Der Spiegel, revealed that Runge, now 43, informed on fellow students and his own family, and spied on Western journalists.

His boss thinks that it's no big deal:

Conde Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse believes Runge’s past is “irrelevant” to his current jobs and has “full confidence” in him, said a statement from the publisher’s German headquarters in Munich.

The magazine that broke the story has a different perspective:

It is almost embarrassing to read Runge's ruminations on "principles of a democratic journalism." Such posturing is totally unbelievable coming from a person who systematically abused our profession, who masked himself as a journalist when he approached colleagues, members of the opposition in the GDR or private persons, all the while spying on them and denouncing them.

Journalists do research and gather information for publication, not to create dossiers and incriminating materials to be given to secret services.

Incidentally, Conde Nast owns the New Yorker which is currently flogging the Iraqi prison story. Funny, i guess, that they are so tolerant of secret police informers in house.

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