The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 20 September 2003 / 23 Elul 5763

Objective Reporting

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

Following are some of the tactics used by reporters covering the Middle East:

1. Description of Israeli Self-Defense Military Actions

All Israeli actions, although they are pure acts of self-defense, usually triggered by terrorist acts against civilians, are described as "aggressive", "intensive" or "devastating".

2. Description of Leaders on Both Sides

Prime Minister Sharon is referred to as a "hard liner", a "war criminal", and the Bulldozer "and as one" vilified by Arabs. In contrast, Arafat is never referred to as "the former terrorist" or as being bellicose, corrupt or despotic. In fact, some journalists attempt to elicit sympathy for Arafat by referring to his old age and deteriorating health.

3. Comparing Israeli Deaths with Palestinian Ones

When reporting an atrocity like a bus bombing reporters and editors make sure to balance the effect by reporting on the tragic death of a Palestinian elderly woman or child even if that death occurred long before. The classic example was the CNN article on the butchering of two Israeli teenagers, one of them the son of American immigrants living in Tekoa. Below the report, titled "Two Israeli Teenagers Found Dead", was a photo underneath the headline of a Palestinian baby shot and buried earlier in the week.

When a "work accident" in a Palestinian bomb factory resulted in the death of seven Palestinians it enabled CNN to report that the killing of one Israeli and the wounding of another on West Bank roads "followed explosions and clashes in Gaza and the West Bank which claimed seven Palestinian lives."

And this is called "objective reporting"!

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