Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

NY Times reporter evaluates the Times' coverage of Israel/Palestine

Below is a post from FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), about a former NY Times reporter who worked from Gaza. She is a Palestinian journalist and recently resigned from the Times, as the only NY Times journalist embedded in Gaza.

I post this for a couple of reasons:
  • Arab voices are not in Western media. Arab American opinions are absent from newspaper op-ed pages all across the United States. So it's important to hear what it's like for a Palestinian to work for an American newspaper, and to ask ourselves, why is an Arab-American perspective forbidden?
  • I posted a bit about the Ethan Bronner controversy a while back. To recap, Bronner is the NY Times middle east bureau chief, and news reports leaked that his son was serving in the Israeli military. There was a printed debate in the Times, with some editors calling for his resignation, and some supporting his position as bureau chief, despite his son's involvement. The controversy died down and Bronner stayed in his post. This affected the below-mentioned NY Times Gaza correspondent, who ended up resigning as a result.
  • The NY Times is read by many Americans (at least those I know) as their "go-to" international news source. If it's not in the Times, it didn't happen (I don't mean to sound condescending. I spend too many hours per day trying to read news, it's a lot of freaking work). I hope El-Khodary's below evaluation of the NY Times reporting of the Israel/Palestine situation encourages readers of this blog to read additional news sources for your international news, especially news about Israel/Palestine.
Here's the post from FAIR:

Taghreed El-Khodary, formerly the New York Times correspondent in Gaza, spoke recently at an event organized by the Palestine Center (6/23/10). She shared some interesting observations--the first being that her revelation that she left Gaza after the controversy erupted over Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner's son joining the Israeli Defense Forces:
I'm sorry that I left Gaza, but my bureau chief's son joined the Israeli army and I felt like it's not wise of me. I don't want to risk losing my sources that I have been establishing for many, many years. It's a very sensitive issue, as you all know; not only that, but it's also risky, and you have many small groups who would like revenge and I can be a great person to get a hold of. It's very sensitive, and I was really disappointed that they took this decision, but they understand why I left.
Elsewhere she indicates that Israeli restrictions on Palestinian journalists posed other difficulties:
Imagine you are a Gazan journalist and you are just based in Gaza and you cannot see the other story that is the West Bank. And of course the Israelis don't let someone like me, who worked for the New York Times, [to] even work. They gave me a hard time and that's also another challenge. Being a Palestinian journalist, even if you work for Reuters or AP or the New York Times, Israel will never give you access to the West Bank or to Israel.
She also discussed the need for a certain type of "balance" in every story out of Gaza:
The issue is even if you write a feature, if you write anything; you need the Israeli narrative in the story. You need to balance and that's why you need the space. That's the story here. You have to be politically correct. You have to have the Israeli narrative, even if you are working in a feature. So that's how it goes, and I think you need to understand also how the Israelis are looking at things. What's disturbing here is watching your TV. I cannot watch CNN domestic. They treat me like a stupid person, like a stupid audience. I really stopped watching it, because it's so different from the CNN International. I'm here and I'm really not watching your Fox [News] or your CNN. It's scary.
When asked to evaluate the Times' reporting on Israel/Palestine, she does not exactly give a ringing endorsement:
I think the New York Times is doing a good job, if I compare it to others--if you want me to compare it to CNN or Fox. I'm sorry, but when it comes to European media, it's completely different, I would say.

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