Unfair on journalists

John Pilger is spot on with his analysis of the reporting of the "War on Terror" (1 October). He is, however, unfair to place a blanket of criticism on journalists and media courses. I teach Reporting Business, Economics and Finance to MA students at Cardiff University and always encourage students to be sceptical about authorised press releases that show only one side of a multifaceted story.

In Pilger's words, it is essential to "push back screens and lift rocks" to find the real story. In my experience, few, if any, students disagree with this approach. But several of my students, most of whom are international mid-career journalists, have told me that their editors have spiked copy not because it is inaccurate, but because it challenges political stability or commercial reputations.

G J Merrill
West Kennett, Wiltshire

This article first appeared in the 15 October 2001 issue of the New Statesman, A nation in panic