pressure on the media
and how to counter it
As the report US media under fire over Middle East coverage below
states the majority of complaints to the US media come from Pro-Israel
Zionist Jews. This is despite the fact that the media is in most
of the cases biased towards Israel. Hunderds and sometimes thousands
of Zionist Jews and their supporters flood journalists' inboxes
with complaints. They also call boycott some newspapers as in the
case of the LA Times. This of course does have influence on the
papers and on other organizations. An example is Texas Automotive
Export which issued an appology after receiving threats and complaints
for boycotting Israel. James Zogby thinks the Zionist complaints
"could certainly make editors "gun-shy," of the whole
issue, to the point where editorial judgments take a back seat to
On the other hand, we the Muslims who have the just cause are doing
much less than the oppressor Zionists. This conclusion was drawn
from the report below and from a member of the Canadian Islamic
Congress. Don't think that your letter to a newspaper will not make
a difference, it will insha'Allah. Next time you receive an action
alert please take few minutes to write to a journalist, a newspaper,
or a TV. We should do the least to help our brothers and sisters.
under fire over Middle East coverage
ABC News Online
April 25, 2002
Middle East conflict has always been somewhat of a minefield for
US media, but editors are now at the centre of a firestorm of criticism
over their coverage of events in the Middle East in recent weeks.
The public's anger has found statement in boycotts, protest advertisements
and some of the most sustained criticism newspaper guardians can
"They critique everything we do in minute detail," said
a weary Don Wycliff, public editor for the Midwestern daily the
He says the protests are overwhelmingly pro-Israeli, pour in at
the rate of up two dozen emails a day and range from complaints
about the length of some stories to charges the paper under-reported
the number of demonstrators at a recent pro-Israel gathering.
Both in Chicago and in Los Angeles, where 1,000 readers have suspended
their subscriptions to the LA Times to protest what they see as
the broadsheet's pro-Palestinian bias, the effort appears to be
One Jewish doctor, Joe Englanoff at the University of California
at the Los Angeles Medical Centre, told the daily last week the
boycott was the result of weeks of talks, and an email campaign
that reached thousands.
Mr Wycliff says rabbis in Chicago have been passing the word at
synagogues, urging members of their congregation to put the Chicago
Tribune on "vacation hold".
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, supporters of Israel upbraided the Star
Tribune newspaper in its own pages for failing to refer to all suicide
bombers as terrorists earlier this month.
"Terrorists are terrorists, whether the victims are Jews in
Israel, Americans in the World Trade Centre, or others," argued
a group calling itself Minnesotans Against Terrorism.
The organisers have mustered some heavyweight political support
for their cause. Three US congressmen from the state and the state's
Governor, Jesse Ventura, all signed the letter.
But the Tribune's editors responded that they preferred to let
readers make their own judgments by avoiding "labels"
and using more precise language like "gunman," "separatist"
and "rebel" where possible.
"It's not the job of an editor sitting in Minneapolis to change
wire copy coming out of Jerusalem or Ramallah," elaborated
Tribune Star spokesman Ben Taylor, alluding to the newspaper practice
of using news agency copy to bolster its own foreign news coverage.
Of course, this is not a new phenomenon. The Middle East has always
been a hot-button issue in the US and never more so than since Israel
launched its West Bank offensive March 29.
National Public Radio (NPR) can attest to that, having had its
Middle East coverage slammed in attack advertisements published
in the New York Times by a Jewish group called Committee for Accuracy
for Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) in the past.
But this time round, the protesters have really turned the volume
up, according to NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin, who says he and
60 or so ombudsmen at newspapers across America are convinced they
have never seen anything quite like this.
Phone calls and emails, up to 10,000 emails in the past three weeks
alone, have been pouring in to Mr Dvorkin from listeners on both
sides of the issue, but primarily from listeners sympathetic to
the Palestinian people.
"There is intense pressure from both sides to make sure their
perspective is heard and, even more importantly, the other perspective
is not," said Mr Dvorkin, a watchdog for the nationally syndicated
radio service which reaches an estimated 15 million people.
Some in the Arab American community are persuaded the incidents
reflect a larger campaign by the Jewish lobby in the United States
to manipulate media coverage and hence public opinion.
"They have gone on the offensive, knowing if they make enough
noise it might cause editors to back off a little," said James
Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute in Washington DC.
"I don't think they can make the case that the media has been
But he suggested they could certainly make editors "gun-shy,"
of the whole issue, to the point where editorial judgments take
a back seat to political considerations.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League,
a New York-based group whose mission is to combat anti-Semitism,
"The protests are spontaneous. They're not significant, but
they make people feel good," he said, adding it is merely "democracy
"Both sides are angry and frustrated because they can't do
anything to change the situation on the ground."
He says if he has one criticism of the US media coverage it is
"I think it's ignorant," he said.
"Reporters are parachuting into the Middle East who know nothing
about the context."
© 2002 Australian Broadcasting Corporation