Emma Brockes


Emma Brockes

Infobox Person
name = Emma Brockes


caption = journalist
birth_date = 1975
birth_place = United Kingdom
alive = alive

Emma Brockes (born 1975) is a British journalist for "The Guardian" newspaper, working principally as a profile writer. Brockes graduated in 1997 with a first from St Edmund Hall, Oxford, Oxford University where she was editor of the student newspaper "Cherwell" and won the Philip Geddes prize for journalism. She worked briefly as feature writer on "The Scotsman", before joining "The Guardian" in 1997. She has been recognised by the British Press Awards three times, taking the 'Young Journalist of the Year' award in 2001 and the 'Feature Writer of the Year' award in 2002, for which she was also nominated in 2006.. Her first book "What Would Barbra Do?" [" [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/02/18/bobro10.xml What Would Barbra Do?] " Transworld Publishers Ltd. (2007) ISBN 0593055144 ] was published in 2007. It is an examination of the importance of musicals to Brockes life.

Chomsky-Guardian Controversy

Chiefly known for celebrity profiles, on October 31, 2005, "The Guardian" newspaper published an interview Brockes conducted with Noam Chomsky, in which the final text and page layout suggested that Chomsky had downplayed the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica, in part by using the word massacre in ironic quotes. Chomsky immediately asked for a citation of anything in print where he had used the word massacre in ironic quotes with reference to the Srebrenica massacre, and none was provided. Chomsky's critics have counter-argued that other texts seem to imply the same logical meaning as ironic quotes, even if none can be found in print. Brockes also objected to Chomsky's defence of "LM" (formerly "Living Marxism") magazine, who in 1999 had a successful libel case brought against them by ITN. [Brockes, Emma. "The Greatest Intellectual?", "The Guardian", October 31, 2005; the article has since been withdrawn from "The Guardian" website, but remains available at " [http://www.chomsky.info/onchomsky/20051031.htm chomsky.info] "; Edwards, David. " [http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=9045 Smearing Chomsky - The Guardian in the Gutter] ", "ZNet", November 4, 2005; [http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn11052005.html Storm Over Brockes' Fakery] , "CounterPunch", November 5-6, 2005.]

The final text of Brockes's interview alleges that Chomsky believes the following:" [...] that during the Bosnian war the 'massacre' at Srebrenica was probably overstated." The article continues, "(Chomsky uses quotations marks to undermine things he disagrees with and, in print at least, it can come across less as academic than as witheringly teenage; like, Srebrenica was so not a massacre.)"

The page layout included this headline:"Q: Do you regret supporting those who say the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated?A: My only regret is that I didn't do it strongly enough."

"The Guardian" explicitly clarified that "no question was put to Mr Chomsky in that form." One side of the controversy believes that by "it" Chomsky refers to his longstanding support for the free publication of anything, in this case a book by Diana Johnstone, which had been criticized by the Swedish press for what the Swedish press felt was its apparent denial or minimisation of Serb atrocities in Bosnia, including at Srebrenica. [Chomsky, Noam. An Open Letter to The Guardian. " [http://www.chomsky.info/letters/20051113.htm] ", "Znet", Nov 13, 2005.] Chomsky had joined an open letter in support of Johnstone's liberty to publish; the letter was signed by several people, and it reads, in full: "We have been informed that the head of Ordfront’s publishing house has expressed concern that the majority of the recent annual meeting and the new Ordfront board, by insisting on the right of Diana Johnstone to be heard, may jeopardize the willingness of good writers to work with Ordfront. In fact, the opposite is true. We regard Diana Johnstone’s Fools’ Crusade as an outstanding work, dissenting from the mainstream view but doing so by an appeal to fact and reason, in a great tradition. But whatever opinion one may have of that book, there are more fundamental issues at stake, namely freedom of expression and the right to express dissenting views. We strongly support the democratic majority of Ordfront’s recent annual meeting for voting to reassert those principles, and to repudiate their abandonment by the organization’s leadership in response to a propaganda onslaught by mainstream Swedish media. It is that onslaught and the leadership’s submission to it which we find reprehensible. We wish to make it clear that, only to the extent that Ordfront’s publishing house associates itself with such unprincipled behavior would we be inclined to terminate our relationship with the organization."

Chomsky also wrote: "Swedes who display their outrage over these examples of Serbian genocide clearly have the duty of informing us of their far more bitter condemnations of the massacres (again with decisive US-UK backing) through 1999, leaving maybe 5-6000 civilian corpses, according to the Church in East Timor and the leading Western historian of Timor, the British scholar John Taylor -- all BEFORE the paroxysm of terror in late August 1999, after which the US and UK (and for all I know, Sweden) continued to support the Indonesian murderers who were already responsible for the death of about 1/3 of the population in pure aggression decisively supported by the US and UK (and when it came time to make some profit from it, Sweden). Perhaps they have issued bitter condemnations of their Western allies (and Sweden). If so, they have a right to use the term 'genocide' in the case of the terrible but much lesser crimes of Racak and Srebrenica. And, needless to say, this is only one trivial example of Western crimes in the same years." [ [http://www.hagglundsforlag.se/forfattaredok/Johnstone/ChomskyDararnas.htm Hägglunds förlag ] ] This statement has been differently interpreted by Chomsky's supporters and his detractors.

After an open letter from Chomsky and letters from many of the newspaper's readers, the editors of "The Guardian" retracted the interview and issued "an unreserved apology." [" [http://www.guardian.co.uk/corrections/story/0,,1644017,00.html Corrections and Clarifications] ", "The Guardian", November 17, 2005.] [David Edwards " [http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=9045 Smearing Chomsky - "The Guardian" In The Gutter] ", November 04, 2005] , finding in favour of Chomsky on three significant counts. [Stephen Brook " [http://www.guardian.co.uk/yugo/article/0,2763,1644702,00.html Guardian Pulls Chomsky Interview] ", "The Guardian", November 17, 2005.] "The Guardian's" retraction drew its own protest. Several authors and journalists, some who have written about Bosnia and Herzegovina, including several survivors of the Srebrenica massacre, asserted their agreement with the way the original article was presented.

The matter was considered in May 2006 by the external ombudsman John Willis. After examining the documents Willis concluded that "the long complaint" from David Aaronovitch, Oliver Kamm and Francis Wheen contained "no direct quote from Chomsky that supports" the accusation that he denied the massacre, and that "The Guardian" was "surely right to conclude that the errors had been serious enough to issue a correction and an apology." Willis nevertheless criticised the Guardian's readers' editor Ian Mayes, for his decision to remove the interview from the Guardian's website and for publishing a response by Johnstone; Willis described this as "overcompensating". [Willis, John. " [http://www.guardian.co.uk/readerseditor/story/0,,1782133,00.html External Ombudsman Report] ", "The Guardian", May 25, 2006.]

Brockes and her defenders (Oliver Kamm in particular) have been criticized for their stance, particularly from people supportive of Noam Chomsky, though the issue is the use of direct quotes within their true contexts when discussing another person's views. One side of the controversy wants to make clear their statement that "the external ombudsman John Willis, asked by Kamm, Aaronovitch and Wheen to adjudicate in the dispute, criticised the Guardian's Readers Editor Ian Mayes for responding to Chomsky's complaint by removing Brockes's interview from the website and for running a comment piece by Johnstone. Willis felt that Mayes had 'overcompensated' and that this was 'not completely fair to Emma Brockes'". The two sides to the dispute are unable to agree over whether Chomsky's statements on Srebrenica indicate that he has ever denied the propriety of the term massacre or questioned the death toll at Srebrenica because each side is interpreting the words differently [citation needed] .

Links

* [http://www.chomsky.info/letters/20051113.htm Open letter from Chomsky] to "The Guardian" in response to the interview
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,907600,00.html 'Bottoms up...'] "The Guardian" 5 March 2003
* [http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn11052005.html Article] from CounterPunch highlighting manipulations of Chomsky and others by Emma Brockes
* [http://blog.zmag.org/ee_links/chomsky2 OOPS!] "The Guardian" retracts Its Mock Interview with Noam Chomsky

References


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