It’s been more than two weeks since Euna Lee and Laura Ling were detained by North Korea and it now appears that they will stand trial for a charge that faces up to a ten year sentence, but Al Gore’s cable network Current hasn’t said a word. Numerous journalists have called, myself included, but I haven’t even found a single recent report where Current has even responded with, “no comment.”
The network has also been censoring any posts in it’s online community that discuss the situation, as reported here:
@current Srsly what’s going on with that Laura Ling story…I see people post it and then it disappears.
— Delia (@DeliaTheArtist) March 21, 2009
That last link is a tweet from last Sunday, which would indicate Current has been scrubbing their site for more than a week.
I understand that it is a sensitive situation, made doubly so by the fact that a former Vice President is involved, but at this point any hopes Current may have had to resolve this before it became an “international incident,” have long since passed the point of reason, and their attempts to silence their own community about what’s going on with two of their reporters is appeasement to North Korea’s demands at best, and at worst, it’s 1984 playing out in real time — though admittedly current is a private news station and Al Gore isn’t a government official, anymore.
As the SF Weekly pointed out on a blog last week, typically when a reporter is kidnapped — arrested for committing journalism — or just finds themselves in a crisis situation while working, the news agency will immediately release a statement of some sort acknowledging the situation and often sending good wishes. In some cases, reporters will be dispatched to uncover why it happened and what is likely to happen in the future. Maybe even get reaction from it’s audience — we are talking web 2.0 after all.
But instead Current TV has remained silent leaving who knows how many phone calls unreturned while they work to erase any mention of the situation from their site.
There may be a good reason that Current hasn’t commented on the situation, perhaps some tentative secret agreement has been reached with North Korea, I don’t know.
At this point I have my doubts, but even still, the very least they can do is give me a call to tell me, “For reasons which cannot be addressed at this time, Current not have any comment regarding the question you have asked.”
To go just one small step further in the spirit of honest communication they can put a disclaimer on their site that says: “Some content on the site is being held due to concerns that we can’t talk about right now. Don’t worry, you’re stuff isn’t gone, and we’ll unhide as much of it as we can, just as soon as we can.”
They could also start returning media calls with a ‘no comment,’ and offer to send them an e-mail as soon as the company issues a statement or is ready to talk.
The last thing I want to do is jeopardize the safe and immediate return of Ling and Lee, but I feel that Current should be held accountable for their complete inability to address this pressing situation.