The real first casualty of war: Censorship by journalism is virulent in Britain and the US - and it means the difference between life and death for people in faraway countries.
During the 1970s, I filmed secretly in Czechoslovakia, then a Stalinist dictatorship. The dissident novelist Zdenek Urb�nek told me, "In one respect, we are more fortunate than you in the west. We believe nothing of what we read in the newspapers and watch on television, nothing of the official truth. Unlike you, we have learned to read between the lines, because real truth is always subversive."
This acute scepticism, this skill of reading between the lines, is urgently needed in supposedly free societies today. Take the reporting of state-sponsored war. The oldest clich�is that truth is the first casualty of war. I disagree. Journalism is the first casualty. Not only that: it has become a weapon of war, a virulent censorship that goes unrecognised in the United States, Britain and other democracies; censorship by omission, whose power is such that, in war, it can mean the difference between life and death for people in faraway countries, such as Iraq.