Palestinian reporter Daoud Kuttab writes about the role of journalism and sources in Lebanon’s Daily Star:
“I read in detail the verdict of the Spanish court against Al-Jazeera journalist Tayser Allouni and it seems clear that the most important issue involved in the case is the exclusive interview he had with Osama bin Laden. True, the court also talked about a $4,000 cash transfer he made by hand to a fellow Arab. Anyone familiar with the cultural habits of the peoples of the Middle East would not consider such an action anything other than a normal, everyday act of helping someone out. Even the tightened security surrounding current travel has not materially abolished the habit of generations by which Arabs transport small gifts, and especially money, for others. And $4,000 is scarcely an amount to be equated with funding terrorism. In fact, the verdict gives so much importance to the issues connected to the interview that it is impossible for me to believe that he has been punished for seven years in jail for anything more than for appearing to be supportive of bin Laden.”
As Kuttab rightly argues, truly independent journalism should offend all parties, not just minor players. A reporter isn’t doing his or her job unless a prominent government or business figure is expressing displeasure.