New York Times: Gaza Edition

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A man holds the bloody body of a young boy.  He was one of three young men who were playing soccer,  killed along with a 60 year old grandfather by an Israeli attack gone “horribly wrong.” The caption tells us that one of the victims was only ten years old.

With pictures and details like these, we must be reading the Gaza edition of the NYT.

The headline: Israel Attack on Gaza Militants Kills Four Civilians. Right to the point, we know who attacked and who died. And we have a huge, graphic picture of a victim in case there is any doubt. I wouldn’t have a problem with their coverage if they used the same standards when reporting about attacks where Israelis are the victims.

But that’s the point. They don’t.

When a family of five Israelis are butchered in their beds, the Times uses a completely different style. No more sensational pictures. No headlines that identify the attackers. And the victims aren’t civilians, they are “settlers.”

The first story of the attack, which was actually an AP story running in the Times, was:

5 in West Bank Family Fatally Stabbed.” There were no pictures of the victims.

Next, when the Times ran their own story, it became:

Israel Seeks Killers of West Bank Settlers.” (Later updated to “Suspecting Palestinians, Israeli Military Hunts for Killers of 5 West Bank Settlers.”) There were no pictures of the victims.

By the third story, the headline was:

Israel to Step Up Pace of Construction in West Bank Areas.” At least we have a picture of the funerals under the “construction” headline.

The final story gives us one more picture, but hardly one that will evoke sympathy for the victims. The headline?

Neighbors Blood Binds Settlers to West Bank.”

Would it have been so hard for the Times to run a headline like:

Palestinian terrorists kill five Israeli civilians?”

Would it have been wrong to run just one picture of the victims to give the story more meaning?

Apparently for the Times it would. So the double standard continues.

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[sc:graybox ]Cherryl Smith, PhD, is professor emerita in rhetoric and composition at California State University, Sacramento. Her blog is Framing ...