Hier finden Sie die Rede von Admiral James G. Stavridis beim Arthur Burns Award Dinner am 6. Juni 2012 in Berlin in Englisch.
"The Heart of the World”
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Guten Abend!
Let me start by thanking you for inviting me to take part in this wonderful event….I am honored to be here this evening as we recognize the continued importance and relevance of one of the strongest relationships seen today – that between Germany and America. As the NATO commander, I can assure you that this relationship is stronger than ever across the full spectrum of military activities and I thank you for the support your nation provides.
The recent Summit in Chicago allowed our nations to take stock of our progress and shape the Alliance's future to ensure we have the right military capabilities for the twenty-first century. NATO - our most important alliance provides stability for Europe not only militarily, but also diplomatically and economically. The alliance provides a network of support to member nations and deterrence to potential adversaries. The interoperability and connections that have been created and tuned over NATO's six decades are priceless – and irreplaceable in the short term. The Alliance has been, and continues to be, one of the best investments for Trans-Atlantic, and global, security.
But what I really want to talk about this evening is something that is cherished in the heart of everyone in this room - journalism. Journalism is a demanding and peculiar profession. In fact, Otto von Bismarck concluded that "A journalist is a person who has mistaken their calling.”
I looked up the Top 200 jobs in an online report published in the Wall Street Journal to see how Journalism and reporting ranked. The number 1 job for 2012 was Software engineer – understandable as there is a HUGE demand for follow on "Angry Birds” games; Pharmacist was ranked well and Financial Planner was also up there –they give you the illusion of future wealth – and who wouldn't pay for that? I scanned further down the list. Sewage plant operator was 117. Shoe repairman – 147. Nuclear contamination technician was 165. Unfortunately, I had to search all the way down to 184 to find "Reporter”1. However, I ask that you take solace in two facts - first, you aren't at the bottom of the list! Second, although he could have chosen any career field, when not saving the planet, Superman was Clark Kent, the reporter. You share a profession with a superhero –not bad!
Journalists report on unfolding history, and history has given us some outstanding journalists, several of whom we recognize tonight. I would especially like to thank and congratulate our award winners for their fine contributions to journalism and the art of reporting.
Journalism means much to me as it honors a profession that I have actually spent some time pursuing. I was editor of my high school paper in 1972; and I went on to edit the Naval Academy's magazine in 1974-1976. Happily, those articles are very hard to find or you probably would not have invited me to speak here tonight…
I can tell you that my experience with journalism left a lasting impression and an enduring love of the art that I pursue today through my books, articles and blogs. And I truly believe that good journalism is as much an art as it is a fact-finding event. For a journalist, writing is a passion. It is because of that passion that we see examples of their art shining through as they illuminate for us all the issues of the day.
I stand in pretty good company when I speak of the passion and importance of journalism. These ideas are enshrined in the United States Bill of Rights: Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. Similar language is seen in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union: The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected.2 And it is this idea of freedom of speech that matters as no one could have imagined how we communicate and connect today.
Journalism's format has evolved from Thomas Paine's "Common Sense” pamphlet which helped incite colonial America's revolution to today's Tweets, Blogs, You-tube, FaceBook and SKYPE, which enabled the Arab Spring movement to rapidly spread. Regardless of the format however, it is the journalist's job to present the information – to tell the story. Salman Rushdie, the Booker Prize winning author who is still being hunted by those who would not allow his free speech, sums it up concisely for us: "Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.” His pursuit of free speech has almost cost him his life.
And there are journalists who have paid the ultimate price in pursuit of the truth. Robert Capa's graphic photographs and Ernie Pyle's common prose were loved and still appreciated, but cost them their lives in the war zones of World War II. You are all part of a profession that has demonstrated courage over and over, and I respect that.
More recently, the International Press Institute (IPI) reported that as of 30 May 2012, 61 journalists have been killed this year, putting us on track to witness the deadliest year since record-keeping began in 19973. Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik were killed in Syria earlier this year. I was particular struck by a quote from Marie during one of her interviews. She said: "We send home that first rough draft of history. We can and do make a difference in exposing the horrors of war and especially the atrocities that befall civilians.”
To suppress the truth, governments must first suppress the journalists. Thank you for relentlessly pursuing the truth even though it is sometimes at great risk to yourselves. Your efforts make the world a better and safer place.
BUT, let's face it, as a society we don't always agree with the journalists or the way some of them do business. I would say some focus too much on the negative. There is at times a tendency to submerge the positive and bury it – and why? Sensational sells. Some reporters create pre-existing narratives and report on "what fits”. Reporting from conflict areas like the Balkans in the 1990's and Columbia in the last decade, for example, fit this pattern.
But done well, and honestly – think of Hemingway's writing, both as a reporter and novelist: clear, pure, and true - Journalism matters deeply and can change the world.
Today, technology is making journalism's impact even greater. Everyone can be a "journalist” - everyone has a microphone and a digital canvas that can inform the world. The great challenge for your profession in this complex period will be balancing the "iReports” on CNN in a world of infinite connection with the ethics, standards, and professionalism of the practitioners like all of you.
We have witnessed massive change sweep through Africa and the Middle East during the Arab Awakening, much of which was broadcast by ordinary people who had a camera and internet connection. Tunisia's oppressive ruler for 23 years was forced into exile during a revolution that was accelerated by social networking and media. Libya's democratic forces organized and conducted operations through social media. Massive demonstrations in Cairo and other Egyptian cities were sent through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to raise awareness not only in Egypt but also around the world, stirring further revolts and uprisings.
The ability to rapidly coordinate and mobilize a population is a great characteristic of social media, but it is NOT the one we should be focusing on. The most powerful use of social media, which is really just another venue for "journalism,” is the ability to expose a government's atrocities to the world. This information provides the motivation for a revolution – mobilization in the end is a logistical function – albeit an important one – once the people are informed and motivated by reporting: journalism.
And it is the power of truth and information rapidly spreading that dictators fear most – whether from a trained journalist or college student with a camera phone. Despots know this and crack down on the internet to keep damaging information from being posted to the world.4 Although some are unsuccessful, dictators continue to follow this model and are attempting to control and or censor the press and the internet.
So, how do we characterize those people who used social media tools during the Arab Awakening? Protesters? Activists? Revolutionaries? Perhaps… journalists? Regardless of the title we give them, they gave us… the story. They wrote the journal that moved the world. Along with all of you.
We must continue to search out and embrace technology that increases our ability to rapidly connect with people to share stories, experiences and history. The use of interconnected social media in reporting is relatively new to us. It has the potential to increase awareness globally and instantly – to accomplish this in an honest and pure method is the true job of a journalist – regardless of the medium employed.
As I close tonight, remember that the Arthur Burns Award is emblematic of the persistent and dedicated efforts of journalists to get the story out to the world. I share the sentiment of early American publisher Henry Luce when he noted that "I became a journalist to become as close as possible to the heart of the world”. I look with respect, and perhaps a little envy, at tonight's award winners. You are all part of a bold and brave profession – not perfect, and no profession is perfect – but you work indeed at the "heart of the world.”
1. http://www.careercast.com/content/top-200-jobs-2012-181-200 (Accessed 17 May 2012) Source site for story.
2. Full legal effect upon entry into the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009. Under the Charter, the EU must act and legislate consistently with the Charter.