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A response to the Independance Day Flag Incidence story

Date Posted: 2007-08-01

Unlike many people around the world, I still have a high regard for journalism as a profession. This in spite of the fact that much of my academic research over the last ten years has been directed towards revealing the production and reproduction of falsehoods in the mainstream media.

Many journalists take extraordinary risks as part of their profession, and 58 have paid with their lives already this year.

At the other end of the spectrum are reporters who cannot even be bothered to search the internet or drive a couple of miles down the road to check whether the information they have borrowed from second-hand sources and embellished with their own fantasies contains any truth.

A prime example was your story, "Independence Day flag incident irritates university president" which was posted online on July 11, and which concerned my decision to hang the American flag upside down from the balcony of my office at Okinawa International University on July 4.

How difficult would it have been, for instance, to check the spelling of my name or the reading of the Kanji of the president of our university, both of which were wrong?

A two-minute internet search or a phone call to the university would have sufficed.

The rest of the report consisted of mistranslated and concocted quotes and misinformation that further served to discredit your newspaper.

Not a single phrase that was attributed to me, for instance, passed from my lips.

The result was a story that gave an entirely misleading account of events which was also a betrayal of journalistic integrity.

Nevertheless, I had a good, if anonymous, relationship with Stephen Carr, one of your previous editors. He protected me from intimidation by a US military lawyer after I wrote an earlier piece for the Update, and for this reason I would be willing to offer your newspaper an interview to set the record straight.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Peter Simpson

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