What Happened to Journalistic Ethics? The Anti-Israel Bias

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We all have opinions and even biases. It’s part of human nature. We should not deny our subjective nature, but rather be aware of it to strive as best as possible to overcome it. I think this is necessary in all areas of life, but even more critical in journalistic reporting.

In a world overwhelmed with information, much of it dubious, journalism continues to play a vital role in our society. How is journalism different than other forms of communication? Here is one simple answer:

“[Journalism’s] value flows from its purpose, to provide people with verified information they can use to make better decisions, and its practices, the most important of which is a systematic process – a discipline of verification – that journalists use to find not just the facts, but also the ‘truth about the facts’.”  – American Press Institute

If journalism is not about seeking the truth, what value does it have? For this reason the first principle in the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics is “Seek Truth and Report It”. How more basic can it be?

What has happened to honest and truthful reporting about Israel? Not only in this recent wave of violence in Israel, but over many years, much misinformation has been spread. Misinformation is not just blatant lies, but also a distortion of the facts. The wording of headlines carries great significance. This type of distortion seems to be a current reflection of the anti-Israel bias in the media. Here are just two examples from the last few days.

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You might ask, what are the issues with these headlines? They appear to be a straightforward reporting of the facts. I admit that the facts are correct, but what is the “truth about the facts”? The truth is that the Palestinians in these stories are not the victims, as portrayed, rather the assailants! As they began to stab random Israelis they were stopped, and sometimes by deadly force. These articles and many more continue to portray Israel as the aggressor.

If you look carefully I did not chose two examples from dubious sources, but rather large, respectable media outlets: BBC and Los Angeles Times. As a side note, both headlines were changed, yet without an apology for blatantly misrepresenting the facts. Why were this misleading headlines used in the first place?

This type of reporting is all too common today. What happened to journalistic ethics and integrity? I challenge these two media outlets and all others covering the news in Israel to seek the truth.

It is said that “knowledge is power”. I believe truth and wisdom are power. With all of the lies and deception being spread these days, seek wisdom to discern the truth.

“Do not forsake wisdom for she will guard you. Love her and she will keep you. Wisdom should be first, therefore acquire it. And then with all of your possessions acquire understanding.” Proverbs 4:6-7