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Media Critique #1 - Newsweek

Media Critique #1 - Newsweek

Aish.com's media analysts identify a variety of journalistic violations in this "mainstream" article.

by Aish.com Staff

October 12, 2000

"The New Days of Rage"
By Daniel Klaidman and Michael Hirsh

1. "Jihad Fawzi's home, the Gaza Strip, a dusty, impoverished shard of land where he and his people had hoped to forge a state, is still a prison. His jailers: the Israeli Army which envelops Gaza."

"Gaza... is still a prison. His jailers: the Israeli army..."

Violation of Objectivity: Opinions under the guise of news
Violation of Objectivity: Lack of context

This article is posted on the Newsweek Web Site in the "news" section. Therefore, as news, it should be reporting facts, not opinions.

By using the words "prison" and "jailers," the reporters are injecting their personal opinion into opinion who are the victims and aggressors -- without offering the slightest bit of evidence to substantiate these characterizations. This is an opinion piece and belongs on an op-ed page where it would be clearly identified as such.

Furthermore, the reporters do not provide any context to their statement. In fact, the reason that the Israeli army surrounds Gaza is to prevent terrorists entering Israel and murdering innocent Israeli civilians -- as indicated by the history of suicide bombings, lynchings, terrorist attacks, bus hijackings, cafe bombings, etc.

2. "Islamic Hizbullah guerrillas across Israel's northern border in Lebanon, enraged by the killings of Palestinians, attacked Israeli troops and took three of them hostage. Prime Minister Ehud Barak, his credibility as a peacemaker in tatters, sent tanks and troops to the north to beef up security on the Lebanese border. According to Israeli news reports, he also threatened to strike Beirut, Lebanon's capital, if the soldiers were not released."

"Islamic Hizbullah guerrillas..."

Violation of Objectivity: Misleading definitions and terminology

The Hizbullah, according to all reputable experts, is a terrorist organization. However, the writers chose to refer to them with the less morally offensive term "guerillas."

"...enraged by the killing of Palestinians..."

Violation of Objectivity: Opinions under the guise of news

Instead of simply reporting Hizbullah's action, the reporters again inject their opinion as to the cause of Hizbullah's kidnapping of Israeli soldiers -- despite the fact that no Hizbullah spokesperson offered an explanation for the kidnapping. And by adding the word "enraged", the writers intimate that Hizbullah's actions were in response to some (unnamed) provocation.

"...attacked Israeli troops..."

Violation of Objectivity: Distortion of facts

The word troops make it seem that the Hizbullah attacked a large military unit. This is not true; the three soldiers were alone when attacked and taken captive.

"Prime Minister Ehud Barak, his credibility as a peace maker in tatters..."

Violation of Objectivity: Selective omission

Again the reporters offer their uncomplimentary opinion, this time about Barak as a peacemaker, without providing any evidence to support this negative characterization. Many believe, including President Clinton, that Barak has done everything possible to keep the peace track alive, and that it is Arafat's credibility which is tattered.

"According to Israeli news reports he also threatened to strike Beirut..."

Violation of Objectivity: Distortion of facts

The reporters do not mention the name of the Israeli media which carried this news report, because such a source does not exist. This is an outright fabrication. Barak never threatened to bomb Beirut in response to the release the kidnapped soldiers.

3. If Arafat makes no progress in ending violence in the next two days, Barak said, "It will be tantamount to putting an end to the political track." Translation: the Israeli Army, its full force unleashed, will reoccupy the 40 percent of the West Bank partially controlled by Arafat and take over Gaza. It also shut down Arafat's only airport.

"Translation: the Israeli army its full forced unleashed will reoccupy the 40 percent of the West Bank partially controlled by Arafat and take over Gaza."

Violation of Objectivity: Distortion of facts

This paragraph is pure conjecture disguised as Prime Minister Barak's opinion. As the article quotes, all Barak said is, "It will be tantamount to putting an end to the political track." The reporters then add their own definition of what Barak means. First, they speculate that the end of the political track means the beginning of the military track.

Second, they proceed to speculate as to the exact scope and strategic goals of this military operation. It is the reporters who state that, "The Israeli army, its full force unleashed, will reoccupy the 40 percent of the West Bank partially controlled by Arafat and take over Gaza." The reporters are making their own highly inflammatory accusation that Israel is even contemplating such an aggressive, destabilizing military response. This is a violation of all journalistic ethics.

Notice further how the paragraph ends: " It also shut down Arafat's only airport." By punctuating the paragraph with a fact about the airport, the reporters have "sandwiched" the preceding unsubstantiated accusation -- a subtlety that most casual readers would have missed.

Complaints? Write to: letters@newsweek.com

Published: December 31, 1969


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