Isn’t it time to get out?

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Luke Cole­man

Un­der­stand­ably I've fielded al­most con­stant calls, emails, texts and Face­book mes­sages over the last week, from friends and fam­ily wor­ried about the sud­den es­ca­la­tion of the ac­tiv­ity of ISIS in Iraq. Some are rea­son­ably well-versed in the dif­fer­ence be­tween the au­ton­o­mous re­gion of Kur­dis­tan, but still alarmed at the prox­im­ity of Mo­sul. Some have no clue and have seen a map show­ing Er­bil nes­tled be­tween Mo­sul and Kirkuk and drawn ter­ri­ble con­clu­sions. Mostly though, people have been con­cerned about any dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion in which I might find my­self or have asked a sim­ple ques­tion - “Isn't it time to get out?”

And, as ever, I trot out the line that I feel safer here than I do in Lon­don, sug­ared with some ex­tra re­as­sur­ing words about the strength of the Pesh­merga and the fan­tas­tic se­cu­rity. I've tried to keep people up­dated, es­pe­cially dur­ing the early part of last week when ISIS in­sur­gents seemed to be tak­ing city af­ter city, threat­en­ing Shiaa shrines and march­ing on to Bagh­dad. But I started to no­tice, as I sifted through dif­fer­ent news sources and scoured Twit­ter, that as ever, the first ca­su­alty of war is truth. Nat­u­rally ru­mour and half-truths are to be ex­pected of the open na­ture of so­cial me­dia, where the hys­te­ria can sup­port Win­ston Churchill's as­ser­tion that “a lie can get half­way around the world be­fore the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” I don't think people lie on pur­pose (if we dis­count the pro­pa­gan­dists on all sides), but there is a cer­tain so­cial me­dia cache to be­ing the first to break the news. Sat in a bed­room in Duhok, hear­ing thun­der, an ex­citable stu­dent might rea­son­ably ques­tion whether that un­sea­son­able weather was in fact ar­tillery in the dis­tance. Face­book up­dates tend to link to news me­dia, which many might feel is a more re­li­able place to de­velop an un­der­stand­ing of what's go­ing on. But I've read lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional press over the last few days that has made my blood boil at the in­ac­cu­racy, and they are no bet­ter than the so­cial me­dia com­men­ta­tors who are not trained jour­nal­ists. That so many pro­fes­sion­als are pre­pared to break spec­u­la­tion as sto­ries and to hell with the con­se­quences, is bit­terly dis­ap­point­ing and in some cases dan­ger­ous. There is a re­spon­si­bil­ity that comes with reporting con­flict that seems to have been skewed by so­cial me­dia – where once fact-check­ing was a key­stone of re­spon­si­ble jour­nal­ism, gulli­bil­ity has crept in. As al­ways, we should chal­lenge ev­ery­thing that we read and hear.

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