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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Journalistic Ethics: Comparing The New York Times With The Washington Post

Is it possible to compare the level of journalistic ethics of The New York Times with that of The Washington Post? The simple answer: Yes!

Almost ten days ago, in an editorial entitled "Making the Gaza Cease-Fire Last," The New York Times informed us (my emphasis in red):

"There seems to be little room left in Israeli politics for those who would end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and create an independent Palestinian state."

I immediately sent an email to the editorial page editor of The New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal:

I would like to bring to your attention that in an editorial entitled "Making the Gaza Cease-Fire Last," it is stated:

"There seems to be little room left in Israeli politics for those who would end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and create an independent Palestinian state."

Israel unilaterally evacuated Gaza in 2005.

"Occupied" in the sense that Israel controls the borders of Gaza? This also doesn't work. Gaza shares a border with Egypt.

An answer from Rosenthal? None.

I then sent an email to the public editor of the Times, Margaret Sullivan, presenting her with my message to Andrew Rosenthal and asking why the Times refuses to correct an editorial spewing "pure nonsense."

An answer from Sullivan? None. Needless to say, there was also no correction.

Now let's have a look at The Washington Post. Yesterday, in a Post opinion piece entitled "The fantasy of Middle Eastern moderates," Fareed Zakaria wrote (my emphasis in red):

"In the Palestinian territories, Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, is indeed a moderate. But notice that the Israeli government and the West have happily postponed elections in the West Bank year after year — because they know full well who would win. Moderates don’t do well in an atmosphere of despair and war."

I immediately sent an email to WaPo's managing editor, Martin Baron, explaining that the Palestinian Authority had been responsible for postponing the elections. Within minutes, I had a reply from Mr. Baron, informing me that he had forwarded my email to his op-ed editor, Michael Larabee.

Michael Larabee subsequently sent me two responses. First, he told me that the matter was being checked. Later, he wrote to say that there would be a correction. Shortly thereafter, the following text appeared under the title of Zakaria's opinion piece:

An earlier version of this column erred in stating that “the Israeli government and the West have happily postponed elections in the West Bank.” The elections have been postponed by the Palestinian Authority.

A mere accident that The Washington Post corrected this error? No way! Two months ago, WaPo also corrected an opinion piece entitled "Why the Mideast peace process is in tatters" by David Ignatius, after I informed the Post that Israel had not "announced 700 new settlements in early April," as claimed by Ignatius, but rather 708 residential units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Ignatius even sent an email to me, expressing his regrets (no email yet from Zakaria - nor do I expect to receive one).

So, is there a difference between the journalistic ethics of The New York Times and The Washington Post? No two ways about it!

2 comments:

  1. I'm glad for you that you got some legitimate validation from the Post. I worry that you, like me and others like us, run the risk of overdosing on stupidity and moral decrepitude to the point when we blink out!

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  2. They (media) refuse to understand that when a palestinian says "occupation", it means every square inch of Israel, not Gaza nor the "West Bank"

    Keep up the good fight.

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