As war raged in Iraq, two Al Jazeera business commentators in New York became "collateral damage" of sorts.
On March 24, one day after the Arab satellite network aired graphic video of American prisoners of war captured by the Iraqis, the New York Stock Exchange revoked the press credentials of Al Jazeera analysts Ramsey Shiber and Ammar Sankari. The two, who primarily work in banking and financial advising, provided live, daily market commentary from the floor of the Big Board.
NASDAQ officials subsequently refused to allow Al Jazeera to move the correspondents to that exchange for the daily reports.
The ban came as U.S. officials decried the POW broadcast, saying it violated Geneva Convention guidelines for POW treatment. Meanwhile, U.S.-based hackers were suspected of attacking Al Jazeera's new English-language Web site, making it inaccessible to the public.
Media advocacy groups condemned both incidents against the Arab network.
The Society of Professional Journalists, in urging the NYSE to reverse the ban, called the institution's action "reckless." "A decision to deny Al Jazeera reporters credentials does nothing to support our country's image as a place where the free exchange of ideas and information serves as the foundation for everything America does," says Mac McKerral, SPJ's president-elect and editor of Tampa Bay's Business Journal.
The week after the exchanges shut out Al Jazeera, NYSE spokesman Ray Pellechia said discussions were already under way to readmit the Arab broadcasters and that his organization's action was largely symbolic.
Pellechia says the Pentagon's condemnation of Al Jazeera's broadcast of the POW video came at a time...