Sunday, September 25, 2005

More Reuters bias

Reuters' latest headline about the escalation of violence in and around Gaza set off my journalistic bias alarm. I should to turn the alarm off while reading Reuters, but here we go ...

Two civilians wounded in Israeli missile strike (9/24 6:50 p.m.)

"That's funny," I thought. "I don't recall the word 'civilians' in the headline about Hamas' unprovoked rocket attack on the Israeli town of Sderot on Friday." Actually, I couldn't recall any article from Reuters about that attack, but a Google search revealed that Reuters did indeed devote 249 words to it. Most of those words were spent repeating Hamas' justification for the strike or down-playing the seriousness of such attacks: "Such rocket strikes rarely cause casualties."

Tell that to the family of Ella Abukasis, a 17-year-old resident of Sderot killed by a Hamas rocket attack in January.
Not rare enough.

Anyway, the headline for the Reuters article about the strike on Sderot does not call the Israeli victims "civilians"--though they were--and it reduces the incident to a "claim" by including the attribution in the headline:

Palestinian rocket wounds five Israelis - army (9/23 9:50 p.m.)

It seems that Israeli rockets are fact, while Palestinian rockets are possibly fiction--an invention of the "army."

Reuters needs to establish and enforce some journalistic guidelines specifically tailored for its reporters covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is, unless they want to be perceived as a mouthpiece for marginalized terrorists.


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