Appreciating the Flavors of Biased Journalism
Yarden FranklYarden Frankl is the Director of Special Media Projects for HonestReporting....
One of my readers alerted me to an interesting piece in the New York Times.
There is -- ALMOST -- nothing wrong with the article itself (I'll get to my problem in a minute.) The article is about a chef at the U.S. Consulate using locally grown ingredients from areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority to throw a dinner party. The point is to show the potential for food exports from these areas that are almost totally dependent on international donations. The article made an interesting read and besides describing some of the food items that can be bought from these areas, also mentioned production of items that was made possible with grants from the United States (strawberries, ice cream, salt, etc.)
The main things that concerned my reader was the headline:
Why are you editorializing in the title of this article by utilizing a name for a country that does not exist with that name – and never has existed as an independent country with that name?
I thought he made a fair point. Rudoren sent him a quick response, pointing out that it was an editor who came up with the headline. This tells us two very important things:
1) That if you contact reporters, often they will respond to legitimate complaints.
2) Rudoren seems to agree that there is something amiss with using the world "Palestine" in the headline as if it was an independent country.
On a different note, I do have a further issue with this article. It is an issue that follows directly from my blog post Hamas in Ten Words or Less.
Here is how Hamas is referred to in this article about food:
The dinner was held three days after the swearing-in of the new Palestinian cabinet, which grew out of a reconciliation pact between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas, the militant Islamist movement blacklisted by the United States as a terrorist organization.
Hmmm. So I guess that the United States is "blacklisting" a "militant" "movement" because it believes the group to be a terrorist organization?
If you look back at the previous post on Hamas, a number of readers have suggested other, more accurate, ways to describe Hamas in a few words. Most of them run along the lines "....Hamas, a terrorist organization trying to kill civilians and destroy Israel." (10 words)
So if you feel that a headline is inappropriate, by all means let the reporter know.
But while you are at it, suggest that it is vital for any description of Hamas to reflect the truly evil nature of the group.
Feel free to let me know of any letters to reporters you send and any other attempts to demand HonestReporting.
UPDATE: THE NYT RESPONDED BY CHANGING THE HEADLINE: