Former Associated Press journalist Matti Friedman explains the failings of the media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his article for the Tablet, a Jewish publication. From a journalist’s point of view, Friedman believes that there has been a severe malfunction in the reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that occurred this summer. Friedman reported for the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press from 2006 to 2011 and has live in Israel since 1997. He provides a short history of the media coverage of the region over time and discusses how the mainstream media failed to tell the correct story of Operation Protective Edge this summer.
The articles and broadcasts, from BBC, CNN and other mainstream news outlets, about the conflict in Gaza tended to lean in favor of Hamas, the militant organization that controls Gaza, and condemned Israel for their defense efforts. Many pieces from these sources were opinion driven, which is not what journalism is supposed to be. Friedman says the coverage is biased in the way that it leaves out vital information, and therefore made Israel look like the enemy. One valuable piece of information that was always left out of AP articles Friedman says was fact that Hamas’ covenant “calls explicitly for the destruction of Israel and the murder of the Jews.” But the coverage mainly shows the Palestinian people being killed and Israel being the aggressor, but usually did not condemn Hamas for their brutality. Friedman even said the media served as part of Hamas’ deadliest weapon.
Israeli freelance journalist Dafna Maor wrote an article for Haaretz, an Israeli publication, describes Friedman’s article and says, “activism has trickled into the profession.” And many reporters in mainstream media are inserting their opinions into their broadcasts.
Maor says, “Friedman is one of few journalists making such claims about the foreign media.”
Friedman says this anti-Israel coverage prevents them from “making the compromises necessary to achieve any long-lasting solution with Israel.”
The bias can be attributed to multiple factors according to Friedman; it could be laziness, subconscious bias, and also groupthink. Either way, media outlets need to report in an unbiased and fair manner. So, why did this disproportionate reporting occur?
The problem was that many reporters failed to present both sides of the issue in a fair way. Instead they sympathized with one side and framed the story in a way that forced the audience to believe their viewpoint. This issue stretches so far back into history that many reporters probably did not take the time to educate themselves on the issue. But, they just recycled the viewpoints of the other reporters in their publication. In other words, they may not have even realized they were being biased they just practiced lazy reporting. And since this conflict occurred in such a far away place, people relied on reporters to get the entire story. Therefore, many people would not be able to recognize the biases in the media and had to believe what was told to them on the news.