Friday, December 9, 2011

How much do we really know through our media?

By Jenny Daniels, Caroline Stringer and Katie Adelman
Guest Writers

As Americans today, we believe we have a finger on the pulse of international news through our interconnected world of newspapers, radios, televisions, Internet and smartphones. But just how unbiased are the sources from which media outlets gain exclusive cover stories? The United States media relies greatly on The Associated Press (AP) as a means of obtaining international news. However, if media sources look only to the AP for news, does it limit their ability to report the truth? Practically every media article about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict passes through the AP Israeli bureau.

But to what extent is the U.S. media biased?

There have been instances in which the Israel AP bureau has not pursued leads regarding Palestinian children being killed. In November 2004, an occupying Israeli military soldier killed a stone-throwing 12-year-old Palestinian from 985 feet away. There was an AP photo of the incident on the Internet, but no American news source printed it, perhaps due to the lack of an accompanying story.

That same AP bureau was again involved when an Israeli soldier shot and wounded a 14-year-old Palestinian. With no signs of hostility on the Palestinian side, the Israeli solider simply drew his weapon, took aim at the boy and pulled the trigger. An AP cameraman caught this on tape, but the footage never aired and was later erased.

Occasionally, news stories from the Israeli AP bureau contain the byline of a Palestinian. This is a misrepresentation: a Palestinian journalist phones in information to the bureau, but an Israeli journalist writes the story. Additionally, the Israeli point of view is more often portrayed. In one year’s time, 165 Israelis and 549 Palestinians were killed. In 2004, it was 107 Israelis and 821 Palestinians; the media portrayed this as a period of decreased violence.

Finally, on May 11, 2004, an AP news story reported repeated Israeli violence against Palestinians, some under the age of 14, in detention centers and prisons. This story of the Israeli human rights violations was read everywhere in the world except the U.S.

American citizens expect their media outlets, whether newspaper, television or radio, to provide them with the most accurate information possible. The U.S. is one of Israel’s biggest supporters, and much of America’s hard-earned money — over $10 million dollars a day — goes toward Israeli aid. Wouldn’t you like to get the two-sided, unadulterated version of this conflict’s story?

Written for LCT 375 Section E
If Americans Knew. Why Don’t We Know What’s Going on in Israel
& Palestine? Retrieved from

Weir, A. (2005, July- August). Americans for Middle East
Understanding: The Coverage—and Non-Coverage—of Israel-
Palestine. The Link, Volume 38, Issue 3.

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