Passing the Checkpoint

Dear Honest Reporting Member,

A classic case of media bias is when a front-page story is printed with erroneous facts, and then the corrected follow-up article is buried somewhere on page 20.

On July 11, Associated Press, with its 8,500 news clients, ran this headline: Palestinian Newborn Dies, Woman Shot.” The story followed, “A doctor said Wednesday that a Palestinian woman in labor was barred from passing an Israeli military checkpoint for an hour, giving birth in her car to a baby boy who died before reaching a medical clinic.”

The next day, Associated Press ran the following headline: “Questions Over West Bank Newborn Death.” The story clarified that “Israeli soldiers did not bar a Palestinian woman in labor from passing an Israeli checkpoint, her relatives said Thursday, contradicting initial claims by two Palestinian doctors who blamed a checkpoint delay for the newborn’s death.”

Associated Press is commended for issuing the second story, but members should check the coverage in their local newspapers. Did they give the second story equal prominence? Did they print it at all?

If your newspaper did not vindicate the Israeli Army, you can write a letter to the editor in your own words, or use the sample letter below.

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

========== SAMPLE LETTER OF COMPLAINT ============

To the Editor:

Despite initial reports that on July 11, a Palestinian woman in labor was barred from passing an Israeli military checkpoint and her baby died before reaching a medical clinic, the next day the woman’s relatives said that in fact Israeli soldiers did not ban the woman from passing the checkpoint.

After giving prominent coverage to the initial false report, it would be keeping with journalistic standards to have given equal coverage to the corrected follow-up report.