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Urinal or conduit? Institutional information flow between the UK intelligence services and news media
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 23:00 authored by Paul Lashmar
Since the 1990s, MI6 and MI5 have encouraged formal links with major UK news organisations in an effort to improve the agencies’ media presentation. This paper documents media relations between these agencies and the news media. Utilizing epistemologies for crime reporting and news sources, this paper proposes an initial framework to analyze the institutional relationships between intelligence agencies and the news media. This paper discusses whether news organisations can have official, formal but non-attributable sources within intelligence without compromising their role as the ‘fourth estate’? The paper further examines whether there can be trust between the two professions and takes as a case study the controversy over whether the Security Service (MI5) deliberately played down their prior knowledge of 7/7 suicide bomber Mohammed Sidique Khan. The author was one of the journalists briefed by MI5 and investigates the Security Services’ role. He concludes that there is no compelling evidence of the media being deliberately misled by MI5.
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