Accuracy in Media

The New York Times ran an article last Saturday, August 20th, 2011 entitled Casualties on Both Sides as Israel and Gaza Trade Fire. This title holds the promise of a neutral stance in reporting the recent escalation between Gaza militants and the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The title also suggests that the article will fairly and accurately report each side’s casualties.  Although the article’s content gives breadth to each side in terms of reporting casualties, along with the series of events that led to the escalation (which allows one to judge for himself/herself who the aggressor is), it still lacks fairness in a very striking and visual way.

Last Thursday, terrorists from Gaza crossed the Egyptian border into Israel from the Sinai and through a series of well-orchestrated attacks, killed eight Israelis, six of whom were civilians, and wounded many more. This was the catalyst for retaliatory strikes by the IDF targeting the Popular Resistance Committees, militant groups in Gaza which claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Overall, the article points out that “At least 14 Palestinians, four of them civilians, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since Thursday.”

It also mentions that along with one Israeli civilian killed and six wounded, one critically, in a rocket attack in Beersheba, “Some 50 rockets have been fired at Israel since Thursday. Three Palestinian laborers were wounded Saturday morning by a rocket that exploded on the outskirts of the port city of Ashdod. In the evening, a rocket that hit a house in Ofakim wounded three, including an infant and a child.”

Of the four Palestinian civilians reported killed in this article, one appears to be a child which is the striking photo at the top of the article. The child is wrapped in a death shawl carried by a man in a funeral procession who looks to be beside himself with grief, a group of Palestinians lining the way. The photo was taken by Suhaib Salem of Reuters and the caption reads, “The funeral on Saturday of Islam Oreqa, 2, in Gaza City. Palestinians said he died in an Israeli airstrike late last week.”

So, while the reporting is relatively fair and balanced, the visuals are not. Would it not be more appropriate, if one is to run a piece highlighting the casualties both sides are taking in an unfortunate escalation of violence, initiated by Gazan militants, that a striking image of perhaps the two sisters and their husbands from Kfar Saba who were purposely targeted and murdered, also be used? However, it might be hard to find pictures of a funeral procession of the two slain couples wrapped in death shawls and carried out in the open by family members and friends in the clear view of media and cameras. Instead, the New York Times might have to settle for a picture of their bullet-ridden car, their dead bodies blurred out for the decency of the viewing public and families.





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