Getting Through to Reuters


ALSO:
?
Tom Friedman ignores facts

? Star Tribune apologizes
HonestReporting media activists have scored another important victory for accuracy in Mideast coverage:

A cornerstone of our 2003 Dishonest Reporting ‘Award’ was Reuters’ attempt to legitimize Hamas by falsely describing their goal as the ‘pursuit of independence’. For example:

The military wing of the Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement faxed to Reuters. Hamas has spearheaded a 28-month-old Palestinian militant uprising against Israel for a state in Gaza and the West Bank. (Feb. 15, 2003 – emphasis added)

Hamas rally

Hamas makes it perfectly clear in their official charter and at speaking events that their goal is the destruction of the State of Israel ? not merely an independent Palestinian state ? yet the highly influential Reuters persisted in this charade, regularly casting Hamas as ‘freedom fighters’.

We are now pleased to report that the thousands of emails that HonestReporting subscribers directed to Reuters in recent months have paid off ? Reuters has fundamentally improved the way they describe Hamas in news reports:

Toward the end of 2003, Reuters began indicating that Hamas’ idea of ‘independence’ includes the complete destruction of Israel:

Hamas, sworn to Israel’s destruction, has led a suicide bombing campaign during the three-year-old Palestinian uprising for independence.  (Dec. 15, “Israel Remands Arab-Canadian in Alleged Bomb Plot”)

?  And by January 26, Reuters was describing Hamas in no uncertain terms ? “a faction sworn to destroy Israel,” adding:

Hamas has led a suicide bombing campaign that has killed hundreds of Israelis during more than three years of violence. It has rejected peace talks and demanded that a Palestinian state be formed on all the land that was Palestine under the British mandate preceding the creation of Israel more than five decades ago.

Though not yet calling Hamas ‘terrorists’, Reuters’ current, far more accurate descriptions properly frame Hamas’ actions as beyond the pale of legitimate political struggle. Reuters’ millions of worldwide readers thereby understand the need for Israel’s tough stance against Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.

Congratulations to HonestReporting subscribers for this important accomplishment.

– FRIEDMAN IGNORES FACTS –

NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman blames Ariel Sharon today (Feb. 5) for everything that’s wrong in the region. Alongside a number of distortions, Friedman claims Sharon is responsible for the failure of PA Prime Minister Abbas:

[L]ast week, Mr. Sharon turned over 400 Palestinian prisoners to the Islamist Lebanese militia Hezbollah in a prisoner swap, something he was never ready to do with moderate Palestinian leaders.

In fact, on two occasions ? June and August, 2003 ? Sharon ordered the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, in what his administration specifically called ‘goodwill gestures’ to support Abbas and the road map peace process. Friedman’s own NY Times reported after the August release that it was “the largest of several Israeli prisoner releases in the past few months, and brought the number of those freed to almost 600.” These releases, for which Israel received nothing in return, were even more generous than the recent prisoner exchange with Hezbollah.

Friedman also makes the outrageous claim in his column that there’s a Jewish conspiracy operating in Washington:

Sharon has…Mr. Bush surrounded by Jewish and Christian pro-Israel lobbyists, by a vice president, Dick Cheney, who’s ready to do whatever Mr. Sharon dictates, and by political handlers telling the president not to put any pressure on Israel in an election year – all conspiring to make sure the president does nothing.

Comments to: letters@nytimes.com

Send a copy to the Times’ Public Editor, Daniel Okrent: public@nytimes.com

– STAR TRIBUNE APOLOGIZES —

HonestReporting’s latest communique noted the double standard of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which broke their policy against using the term ‘terrorism’ when they found ‘Zionist terror’.

Star Tribune editors have recognized the problem with both articles critiqued by HonestReporting, and apologized. Regarding the January 21 article in which the Kach movement was described as a terrorist organization, but Hezbollah was not, Star Tribune deputy managing editor Roger Buoen said:

I agree with your point that referring to the organizations in this way gave readers and unfair and unbalanced description of the two groups… That was a mistake because it created an imbalance in the portrayal of the two organizations. We have talked to the editor involved, and she understands the balance and fairness problem that the editing created.

And regarding the January 31 story which referred to ‘Zionist Terrorists’, editor Paul Walsh said:

Quite simply, that was an oversight. A sharp-eyed editor should have changed th
at word.

The Minnesota-area JCRC played a central role in eliciting the admissions of error, and are commended for their fine work.

The Wall Street Journal’s popular daily weblog, Best of the Web Today, quoted HonestReporting’s research, bringing it to the attention of many thousands of new readers.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

HonestReporting.com

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