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What's the Charge?

Last time I was in Afghanistan as a reporter, which is more years ago than I care to think, one of the Canadian units was far from co-operative. I eventually found out that one of the guys had told the rest of the unit that I’d mis-quoted him in an article I’d filed from Kandahar a couple of years earlier. And that was why they were being so obstructive. But here’s the thing – no-one would tell me who I’d misquoted or how I’d misquoted him. Now, everyone makes mistakes. Perhaps I did misquote guy, or maybe unintentionally used a quote out of context. It’s possible. But in most cases of someone claiming to be misquoted they haven’t been. What’s just as possible is that his wife or girlfriend saw what he said quoted accurately in the paper and went ballistic. It’s only human nature to claim then to have been misquoted. My point is that I was found guilty and sentenced without knowing the details of the charge and without the chance to defend myself. The one thing I know for sure is that I didn’t deliberately misquote the guy. I’ve worked in enough small communities to know that misquoting or distorting what people say comes back to bite a reporter on a local paper pretty quickly and pretty hard. I couldn’t help feeling that reporting from Afghanistan was challenging enough without the kind of stunt that unit pulled.

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