Is Tayyar.org manipulating news articles?

By Ana

The Free Patriotic Movement’s virtual news outlet, Tayyar.org, appears to have a history of manipulating the text of the news stories it features. I first noticed this when I visited the website to check out its articles on the numbers it gave for Minister of Industry Pierre Gemayel’s funeral. The website featured an article which it cited from CNN.com titled “Sources: 200,000 at Gemayel Funeral.” I found this number highly puzzling, especially because I had been down myself and although there were clearly not one million people, there were over 500,000 demonstrators. I checked CNN to search for the original article and found only one article mentioned on the website titled “Funeral for Lebanese minister turns into anti-Syria rally” that attributed the numbers to be in the “hundreds of thousands.” Never did CNN mention the number 200,000. Additionally, when quoting the speeches of the March 14 leaders, the website did not feature those of Samir Geagea.

After this incident, I began to think back on the various articles I had read in Tayyar.org and remembered the articles it featured on why Hezbollah had won the July War. The stories were extremely poor in quality with loop-holed arguments. However, the fact that the list of such articles trailed down the website was believed to be the key to the website’s legitimacy: quantity and not quality appears to be what matters in journalism.

However, the article that got me to write this post was titled “US to beef the military of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, who has expressed fears of an attempted Syrian-backed coup” published on December 15, 2006. The article was cited as written by the AFP with the AFP.com logo appearing below the article title. I searched the article on AFP’s website and found no results. I searched for the article on the AP’s website just in case the website had incorrectly cited the wrong news agency. Again, no results. I finally found something on NaharNet which featured a similarly worded article titled: “Rice Says U.S. Will Beef Up the Lebanese Army.”

I then checked the US Department of State’s website and found mention of Rice’s commitment to presenting an aid package that would increase the Lebanese Army’s resources. Tayyar.org is apparently uninterested in its journalistic legitimacy. Calling the Lebanese Army “the military of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora” is very simply unacceptable. The lack of ethics involved in legitimizing a tayyar-created title by claiming its source to be an international, and therefore legitimate, source is beyond inappropriate. I check Tayyar.org everyday because it is tells me exactly what Aoun and his supporters think. Today, I know what they think of the Lebanese Army. They consider it to be an army under the tutelage of Seniora and not one that serves the Lebanese people and its flag. This is very interesting to note, especially coming from a party whose head was once the Commander in Chief of this Lebanese Army back in the 1980s.

I contacted the AFP’s Beirut Bureau Chief, Henri Maamarbachi, to check the legitimacy of the article featured in Tayyar.org and got some very interesting feedback. Maamarbachi stated that once a newspaper article is published, anyone has the right to take pieces of this article and use it to further a particular claim. “There is technically nothing illegal with doing so, however, depending on the case, it could be considered unprofessional.” In response, I gave him the analogy of a researcher who cites extracts from existing literature to further an argument. This, is of course fair, as long as proper citation methodology is followed. However, what about when a researcher takes a quote from a book he finds, manipulates the quote, and still claims that this quote was found in that particular book and written by that particular author without acknowledging that he/she touched it? Maamarbachi replied that this was not professional and unfair. He stated that there is a difference between “omitting” information and actually altering text.

Maamarbachi gave the example of NaharNet saying that when Naharnet.com publishes one of AFP’s articles, it cites AFP as the source without touching its content. “This is the deal we made with NaharNet,” explains Maamarbachi. “It is not the AFP’s language to use words like ‘military of the Lebanese Prime Minister.’ We say ‘Lebanese Army.'”

He continued, saying that unfortunately in Lebanon, there appears to be a war between media outlets, each with its own political agenda. He referred to an article recently written by the AFP, which analyzed how the Mehlis report was covered by the Lebanese media. The AFP’s New York correspondent had written that the Mehlis report stated that Syria had cooperated with Mehlis. Most Lebanese newspapers stated this. However, Al-Mustaqbal had omitted this point.

Although Maamarbachi restrained his criticism of Tayyar.org’s maniuplation of his agency’s text, I consider such acts to be highly unethical. Perhaps Tayyar.org’s main financial contributor, Chaghouri, a Lebanese businessman who is based in Nigeria with an office in Paris, should consider pumping his dollars into another aspect of the website: training. My advice? Rather than pockmarking the website with advertisments that indirectly give its readers the sensation that “everyone” supports the General, funding some journalistic training programs for these amateur website editors really wouldn’t hurt.

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31 Comments

Filed under Lebanon

31 responses to “Is Tayyar.org manipulating news articles?

  1. Ana,

    They do manipulate the news. Tayyar does it worse than others.

    Most Lebanese news outlets are extremely selective in what news they decide to report, but few intentionally skew the data provided.

    It was surprising to see LBC fail to mention the arrests of their CEO’s security detail when every other Lebanese station discussed it thoroughly.

  2. ELIE SALIBY

    Dear Ana,

    First, I wonder why your complete name does not appear in the article. Are you worried about anything? Uusally a writer mentions explicitly his name!
    Second, I am not surprised by the content of the site as I AUTOMATICALLY deduce to whom it politically belongs.
    If I wana agree with you that Tayyar.org is falsifying or manipulating news, I am 100% sure that 14 february media are big liars with a label. So like the lebanese proverb says: iza baytak min 2ziz ma trichi2il 3alam bil 7jara.

  3. ana

    Dear Elie Saliby,

    Your comment is very amusing.

    Of course I’m not worried about anything, but your comment attacks almost every single blogger in the world. Most bloggers use pseudonyms. Sometimes these pseudonyms are names that appear to be real, other times, they are explicit nicknames, such as mine. When I publish an article as a journalist, I use my real name. But here, I publish my posts as a blogger. Blogs follow different rules and play a very different role in disseminating information than traditional media outlets.

    Secondly, it is unfortunate that you extrapolated the argument “I AUTOMATICALLY deduce to whom it [Streets of Beirut] politically belongs to.” It seems you have forgotten that March 14, 2005 was a day for all Lebanese and not just those who chose to remain in the political March 14 camp. However, it seems that you find it necessary to justify your position as a pro-Aoun supporter. Why the defensiveness? Are YOU worried about something?

  4. vicky

    dear ana,
    i noticed the same few days ago . on the tayyar.org site ,it was published that the fpm won all of 12 seats in lu section 2 – rabieh elections when the real deal is that their was a tie between them and the lf

  5. Juggolo

    Dear Anna,

    You wrote: “Never did CNN mention the number 200,000”…
    But CNN actually mention this number: “In Beirut, anger, grief, and at least for 200,000 people…” http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0611/23/ywt.01.html
    Dear you have to be vigilant… since readers can wrongly conclude that “Anna is manipulating news articles…”

  6. ana

    Thank you Juggolo. Did you read the transcript (which is not a news article)?

    The note says:

    “THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.”

    It is the responsibility of journalists to continuously update rush transcripts until they are finally finalized and turned into a news story or feature. It is manipulating news if you decide to spread unconfirmed news rather than official media information.

    Thanks for proving my point.

  7. Juggolo

    You are welcome Anna :),

    Actually it was so easy… it took me only one minute to find many CNN news articles mentioning the number 200,000 in martyr Gemayel’s funeral…
    Check this official news article from CNN website: http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/11/23/thursday/index.html
    You can read:” Lebanese security sources told CNN at least 200,000 people packed Martyr’s Square and the surrounding streets.”
    Since you wrote “Never did CNN mention the number 200,000” we can conclude that tayyar.org is definitely a news manipulator!!!
    Hope your point was proven…. with no doubt this time…

  8. Jen

    Just look at tayyar’s website today. I used to find the propaganda disgusting, now I just find it hilarious. Funny how supporters are blinded and assume that what they see is always what they get…

    And Juggolo, the whole point is that given that it was only a transcript and not a news story, news (and figures) get updated. So if for example at 10 in the morning there are 200,000 people but at 3 pm there are 800,000 people, then you can no longer say that there were 200,000.

  9. Juggolo

    tayyar.org website was down yesterday!

  10. Juggolo

    Dear Jen,
    Ana wrote:
    The article that got me to write this post was titled “US to beef the military of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora … The article was cited as written by the AFP… I searched the article on AFP’s website and found no results. I searched for the article on the AP’s website… Again, no results. I finally found something on NaharNet which featured a similarly worded article titled: “Rice Says U.S. Will Beef Up the Lebanese Army.”…

  11. Juggolo

    I have no access any more !?!?
    I added comments many times but no one appear 🙂

  12. ana

    Juggolo:

    That’s strange, I don’t have any comments in moderation. Maybe the server was down because of the heavy traffic yesterday. You might need to try again later.

  13. Juggolo

    Ana,
    Go to AFP archive or http://www.afp.com/english/globe/?pid=archives
    In the “Search for Articles” window select 12 months for the “date range”; in the “full text” box write “military of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora”; then hit Enter…
    Like magic, the article mentioned by tayyar.org and you denied, appears in the AFP website!!!

  14. Juggolo

    As you see now, your analysis is based on nothing… you are blaming tayyar.org since AFP’s article says “Condoleezza Rice said Washington was considering a financial package to beef up the military of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora”… well it’s Condoleezza’s expression not tayyar.org…

    In the other hand you wrote:
    “NaharNet which featured a similarly worded article titled: Rice Says U.S. Will Beef Up the Lebanese Army.”
    Who’s manipulating here, NaharNet or AFP?

  15. Juggolo

    Finally, about your story about AFP’s Beirut Bureau Chief, Henri Maamarbachi…
    You say: “Maamarbachi explains: It is not the AFP’s language to use words like ‘military of the Lebanese Prime Minister.’ We say ‘Lebanese Army.’”….

    Funny!!!

  16. ana

    Juggolo:

    Your lack of know-how is amusing to my readers 🙂

    As a former AFP journalist, I know exactly which article you are talking about, given that my colleague wrote it. The article that I was talking about was created by Tayyar.org and the AFP has officially denied it ever published such an article.

    Secondly, you either don’t know how to read, or you just like to argue over nothing. No one is disagreeing that Condoleezza Rice used the expression of beefing up the army. It is a common American expression that can be applied on more than just militaries (beefing up popularity, constituency bases, etc). The issue of concern was how Tayyar.org USED the credible name of AFP to create an article in which it used the language “military of the Lebanese Prime Minister” rahter than Lebanese Army to somehow come to the conclusion that a conspiracy is in the making. By using other articles, and in this particular case, create other articles under the authorship of other newspapers and media outlets, Tayyar.org’s strategy is to say that they are not the only ones who think the way they do. Of course, the strategy only works if you are actually honest about it. The beauty of the internet is we can validate all arguments (such as you tried to do, but unfortunately very unsuccessfully). It is a very common Tayyar trend… need I remind you of how Aoun went in front of Al-Manar TV six months ago and showed the world a photoshop-ed photo and then claimed it to be true?

    I invite you to comment on other posts in this blog where you can actually add value to the discussion rather than defame the supposed honor of Aounehs: it is said that they like to argue before the facts and act before thinking. Please don’t tell me that the stereotype actually holds more water than I originally presumed!

  17. Juggolo

    Your readers!?!
    Hey Ana! please don’t tell me you are a professional journalist and you have readers… I just saw your article by chance and I found it amusing… I enjoyed commenting on your article because I felt it’s written by an amateur and so it’s risk free to do it 🙂
    In fact I thought if someone by chance will read it like me, he will saw the fun of your analysis especially after I found that the AFP has really published the tayyar.org article that you didn’t find and based all your analysis around this fact…

  18. Juggolo

    At first you talked about talking with Maamarbachi, now you say you are a former AFP journalist and you have readers! In your next comment don’t tell me you are Ghassan Tueni!

  19. Rabih

    Ana, I’m surprised you’ve been so cordial with Juggolo. But perhaps I’m biased given that I’m one of the “readers” that Juggolo doesn’t seem to think exists 🙂

    On another note, check out Abu Kais’ latest post, it is honestly one of his best. Though I’m sure you’ve already read it: http://www.beirutbeltway.com/beirutbeltway/2007/08/winners-and-los.html

    He COMPLETELY nails Aoun’s hypocrisy all the way and reminds us of how dangerously close Syria is getting to him. However, what I think is that Aoun just doesn’t see it: he seems to have this naivity in him that his supporters sympathize with but that March 14 (rightly so) cannot stand.

    Keep it up!

  20. ana

    I love Abu Kais’ posts! I’m a major fan. Whenever I’m not in the mood to write but have so much to say, I am comforted by his posts because I know that someone is thinking straight. I also enjoy reading comments made by his readers because they are often quite insightful as well and add a lot of value to the original post’s analysis.

    Regarding being cordial, I am so because I know I don’t need to be defensive. If I had to prove myself to the whole world, I’d constantly have a major headache, especially when Lebanese politics is the topic for discussion. You quickly learn that it is not in your interest to change stubborn minds. What is more important is to provoke constructive debate. Thanks for your comment!

  21. Juggolo

    Rabih! are you a real? 🙂

  22. Juggolo

    Ana sure you are defensive. How can you explain your mockery?

    “Your lack of know-how is amusing to my readers… such as you tried to do, but unfortunately very unsuccessfully… they like to argue before the facts and act before thinking”

    Don’t take it personal and stop turning around the subject. I show you that the article belong to AFP, how come you still denying it’s existance!

  23. Juggolo

    existence 🙂

  24. Juggolo

    I forgot this one:

    “I don’t need to be defensive… You quickly learn that it is not in your interest to change stubborn minds…”

    Come on Ana, you are so defensive!

    Your article is good. Your analysis too but based on nothing.

    I learned in mathematics if the hypothesis is wrong, your analysis results will be too…

  25. Juggolo

    Ana are you a man or woman?
    If I may ask.

  26. Koko

    Ana,

    I wish you and similar persons won’t regret after some time their support to thiefs, criminals and bad politicians.

  27. elio

    Poor Ana if u think that by ur misleadng articles u might create doubts for people reading news on tayyar.org u are wrong and I will redirect u to the last statistics that Tayyar is the 2d most popular web in Lebanon… Jugolo – isalute u camarades…

  28. Juggolo

    Dear Elio,

    To be honest I wasn’t really fighting for tayyar.org or the truth… I was looking for news on the internet and by mistake I found ana’s article… Since I rely on tayyar.org as a trusted Lebanese source for news, I found it interesting to check what ana is saying… After I found that she/he was wrong, I tried to let her know but I found that she don’t want to know an insisted on her mistake and became defensive, thing that I found so strange… I think that ana is an amateur and not a real journalist… The real problem is with the Lebanese big journalist and their newspapers… many of them have sold themselves… Anyway in the end only the truth will stand, liars will lose credibility…

  29. Whatever

    Tayyar is the closest to a trusted news source on the lebanese scene.
    Moustaqbal are the less objective. And they are opening a 24h news station! The brainstorming will continue.

  30. Mechanic

    Ana..
    When will the Lebanese people wake up to the truth of the matter and realize that for things to change in Lebanon they must STOP supporting traditional names such as “Aoun-Nasrallah- Geaga- Franjieh- Mouawad- Harriri- Chamoun and other “Long Lived Names” that are taking the nation to furhter turmoil and disastereous situations.
    Isn’t said by a prophet once ” A Blind Cannot Lead A Blind or they shall BOTH fall”!!! SO Please STOP this blind and pathetic support and just say to them NO MORE your “Services” are not welcome anymore nor required…..
    Finally, I scincerly wish that all FREE again I say FREE media will keep hamering all polticians i.e. if they really want to contribute to a better Lebanon.

    Happy New Year to ALL

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