Reporting in Gaza: Striving for fairness

January 15, 2009

dean-150Dean Wright is Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards. Any opinions are his own.

Let’s say it up front: Almost all of you will find something in this column to take issue with.

That’s because the subject is the conflict in Gaza and perceptions of bias in reporting on it. News consumers detect media bias on any number of subjects, but there is nothing like the continuing Mideast conflict to bring out the passions of partisans on all sides.

Here’s a small sample of some of the more restrained comments that have come in to the Reuters reader feedback line:

–“It seems like the whole world wants to condemn Israel for the war/actions it’s taking. Sorry Reuters but for me, I can see right through your pro Palestinian slant. Why don’t you investigate how a U.N. Camp was used as a staging area for Hamas rockets? …”

–“Your pro Israel reporting from Gaza makes one thing perfectly clear. Israel has some control over Reuters. You are in their pocket. Why else would you choose to slant information?”

­­–“Why does Reuters insist on letting someone such as Nidal al-Mughrabi cover the war on Gaza? His reporting is completely biased and filled with inflammatory rhetoric. Doesn’t Reuters have a reporter that understands both sides of the issue and that can JUST REPORT THE NEWS!! I consider such reporting on your part as an insult to my intelligence. Why must you participate in antisemitic propaganda?”

–“Your pro-Israel news coverage of Gaza is shockingly evil. Shame on you! I’ll get the real news elsewhere.”

All feedback is taken very seriously by the editorial leadership.

“A story as important to so many people globally always is scrutinised and criticised,” says Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger. “I take all the comments seriously, because getting it right and giving a true picture of the situation is fundamental to our mission and to the kind of news service I want to run.”

Reuters is not alone in catching flak on coverage. And we’re not alone in examining that coverage. The BBC and The New York Times have both looked at their coverage, concluding that, generally, it has been fair. But both organizations noted the difficulties of covering the conflict in Gaza, as does Reuters Jerusalem bureau chief Alastair Macdonald.

For the past two years, he says, it has been virtually impossible for Reuters staff in Gaza to leave the territory for training, rest or recuperation, as they are routinely denied exit permits by the Israeli army. The army has also prevented Reuters from sending Arabic-speaking staff based in Jerusalem or the West Bank to Gaza and more recently has banned foreign journalists from Gaza entirely. This means Reuters has been unable to send reinforcements or replacements to the Gaza bureau since the Israeli offensive began on Dec. 27. On Thursday, Reuters and other media were forced to evacuate their offices after an apparent Israeli rocket strike on the Gaza building that houses the bureau.

“Unlike many media organizations who complain that ‘there are no journalists in Gaza,’” says Macdonald, “we are very fortunate to have a team of up to 20 people working for us, led by professional journalists of long standing. Their resources, however, are greatly stretched and, aside from persistent fears for the safety of our colleagues and their families, we work in permanent anxiety that overworked equipment will fail and we will be unable to replace it.”

Within Gaza, says Macdonald, senior Hamas officials have generally accepted Reuters’ right to report independently.

“Hamas officials have largely disappeared from view since the offensive began, so they have not been in a position to restrict our reporting, even if they wanted to,” he says. Since Hamas took over, Reuters journalists “have occasionally faced problems with low-level Hamas police and other representatives who try to prevent us filming certain types of event. Such people are particularly reluctant that we should cover events that they see as evidence of challenges to their authority.”

However, Macdonald says: “We have had frank and open meetings with senior Hamas leaders when we have had concerns and are generally satisfied … We generally feel that (they) respect our independence and give us the freedom to do our jobs. We have reported incidents of official repression, including torture … and quoted people making serious allegations against the authorities.”

The Reuters team on the ground in the region is a mixture of Israelis, Palestinians and other nationalities. Reuters Politics & General News Editor Sean Maguire says most have worked for Reuters for many years. “All of them are well-versed in the need to be scrupulous in our use of language, attentive to our rules on rigorous sourcing and aware of our requirement to produce a balanced news file,” he says.

But in a story with so many different datelines, it’s up to the editing desk to pull the threads together, see though the “fog of war” and ensure that the coverage has balance and appropriate context. This team in London has decades of experience and includes several editors who have worked in the Middle East on assignment or have reinforced the Jerusalem bureau. Maguire and I agree that the editors are acutely aware of both the realities on the ground and the complex history of the region.

Several readers have written to say they see bias in Reuters coverage because they have seen stories, like this one, that don’t tell them directly why Israel launched its offensive on Dec. 27, after Hamas militants ended a six-month truce and started firing more rockets into southern Israel. A search of our stories on the Gaza conflict shows that, while there have been stories that have lacked that context, most have included it or similar explanations of the roots of the conflict.

“We are a real-time news service so we are continually tweaking and improving the news file, hour by hour,” Maguire says. “Some stories with new developments have to be moved very quickly to ensure our customers have the latest information. To do so they need to be short, so they will not contain all the background. However, such stories are quickly updated and lengthened to include the appropriate context.”

Other readers have suggested that stories focusing on the conditions in Gaza reflect a bias against Israel and call for more coverage of the hardships Israelis are suffering in the face of continuing rocket attacks. The focus of the coverage has certainly been within Gaza, because that’s where the story—and the bulk of casualties and destruction—has been.

Still, Reuters has made strong efforts to document the situation in Israel. Macdonald wrote movinglyabout how the shadows of history hang over Yad Mordechai, a kibbutz within sight of the smoke of the Gaza conflict. And Douglas Hamilton reportedon the strong resolve of residents of Sderot, a southern Israeli town that has borne the brunt of Hamas rocket attacks. The townspeople’s advice to the Israeli forces in Gaza: Keep it up. This coverage, in turn, has drawn criticism that it too readily accepts an Israeli view of the history of the region.

Even user-generated content is not immune to charges of bias. Reuters Your View, which solicits photographs from Reuters.com users, was accused of imbalance in publishing pictures of anti-Israel demonstrations, but none from the other side. In the Jan. 2 showcase of Your View pictures there were 10 images of anti-Israel protests from six locations and seven different photographers. No pro-Israel or anti-Hamas pictures were received that week. On Jan. 9, there were images of seven anti-Israel protests from four locations and six photographers. There was one image of a rocket attack on Israel, selected from three pictures that were sent. Again, no pro-Israel demonstration images were received that week, reports Leah Eichler, editor of the online newsroom.

Other readers have suggested that journalist Nidal al-Mughrabi’s first-person accounts from within Gaza, such as this onein which he describes the horrified reactions of his children during an Israeli raid, disqualify him from reporting on the conflict. Some readers have suggested that it’s impossible for a journalist to set aside his feelings and report objectively. However, I think a close reading of the article shows that while al-Mughrabi’s first reaction was to make sure his family was safe, he quickly set about the journalist’s work of filing a complete, accurate report of what was going on. “That is what you would expect from a seasoned and responsible reporter of Nidal’s high caliber,” says Maguire.

“I think first-person accounts bring to life the drama and the horror of this conflict,” says Maguire. “Journalists are human beings as well, and it is honest of our reporter Nidal to acknowledge his concern as a parent and the fear of his children when they found themselves under bombardment.”

Indeed, all journalists are called on almost daily to set aside their personal feelings or politics as we objectively cover wars, elections and other stories. Some partisans will never believe it’s possible for journalists to do that. Thankfully, I see it happen every day.

Editor-in-Chief Schlesinger puts it this way:

“Reuters News has journalists from 80 different nationalities working around the world, sometimes in their homes and often in other places. There are certainly times when events affect them and their families personally. But our professional ethics and our company’s Trust Principles mean they try their utmost to put their personal feelings aside in the interest of telling the story truthfully and without bias. As an organisation we have our standards and editing procedures in place to safeguard our report. As editor-in-chief, I take my responsibility for maintaining our standards extremely seriously, and will not tolerate willful breaches. ”

So—has Reuters News given people reason to believe we might be biased against Israel? Perhaps, if they believe a journalist can never separate his reporting of what he sees from what he may feel. And, yes, there have been stories—not many, but some—that have lacked context and have seemed imbalanced. We need to be more vigilant in making sure that all our stories carry appropriate context, as we can’t assume that every reader has read every one of our stories and thus can see our overall lack of bias.

And what seems to be pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli reporting to readers on one continent may not raise any eyebrows on another. It’s also fair to say that articles from different news organizations have differences in tone. That’s good. Who would want one big, bland news source for the world? Reuters News is produced for a global audience and there are bound to be different reactions in the United States, Europe and other regions.

But has there been systematic bias against either side? No. I believe Reuters journalists–-the text, photo and video journalists on the ground and the editors who pull it all together– have, by and large, produced journalism that is fair and as complete as possible under the most difficult circumstances. Can we do better? Surely. Will we satisfy the partisans on both sides? Probably not.

138 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

I would say to Reuters – just report on the news. Report it as best as you can. If people accuse you of being anti Israel for showing the truth about the civilian suffering caused by Israel’s assault on Gaza, then it means you have done something right.

Posted by SAS | Report as abusive

A very well-reasoned summary of your challenges and successes in covering a devastating event under such debilitating conditions. Kudos to you for the astounding effort. I believe Reuters in the pre-eminent source for news on the conflict given your boots-on-the-ground and the US mainstream media’s refusal to provide accurate information from Gaza.

Posted by Shell-shocked in the US | Report as abusive

I, for one, feel that you are doing a relatively good job keeping the balance between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides.

For those who complain of Palestinian reporters reporting from Gaza, one wonders if they would feel that Israeli reporters should not be allowed to report from Israel on the rocket attacks or if American reporters should not have been allowed to report on 9/11?

For those who decry the lack of context, I would suggest you include the phrase “this attack and counter-attack which has been going on since the Jews fled Egypt and invaded Canaan”. Context is all about where you stop. Especially in the Mid-East, there are literally millennia of invasions, wars, and battles which might be required to give the conflict into a complete perspective.

Keep up what you are doing. And, if you can, convey the admiration some of us have for your journalists who are doing an heroic job of reporting.

Posted by Dave P | Report as abusive

I think Reuters needs to look smaller; Instead of saying “This article was pro-Hamas, this article was pro-Israel so we’re being fair” I think each article should stand alone as fair. I disagree that your Palestinian reporters in Gaza can be objective – You should only use outside reporters and sources. A good example of this is the continued reporting of the use of “white phosphorous” by the IDF. The IDF has denies using it yet Reuters repeatedly reports its use as fact because witnesses say so. A fair and objective reporter would be more careful and stick with the facts: People were burned. That’s what Reuters is doing wrong. When Reuters’ editors allow facts to be presented that they suspect are false because they want to use quotes and use sensational statements, they are doing the readers a disservice.

Posted by Stefan | Report as abusive

Reuters, high ranking American Diplomats that I befreinded and in the Mid-East would tell me that when the United States State Department sought to be “even -handed” in regards to the Palestine-Israel the Israel Lobby would be on their tail accusing them of being pro-Palestinian.

Even-handed people. Zionists and the Israel Lobby need to stop acting like they are the only ones entitled to a voice in the media or the exclusive right to defend one’s land and people.

Posted by Rana Hekman | Report as abusive

Thank you, Reuters, for attempting to cover the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land in a fair and balanced way. But, why does Reuters omit the key event on November 4? Namely, that Israel killed 6 Palestinians over the border in Gaza. This was the event that broke the cease-fire. Why does Reuters omit this from the timeline when it is fully aware of this fact; I read about here myself!

Posted by Reef | Report as abusive

I can understand why some would feel there are biases coming from the coverage of this war, either pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian.

However, I’m not complaining when news groups such as Reuters shows the human suffering and casualties in Gaza…that is definitely one of the horrors and consequences of such an action. I would like the world to understand though that Israel would not be engaged in such a conflict if Hamas were not continually lobbing rockets onto civilian targets in Israel either.

So it would be nice if the news coverage was indeed unbiased and show both the consequences of war plus the reasons why Israel is engaged in such action too. Israel may be heavy-handed in their conflicts, but let us not pretend that Hamas is this innocent bystander who are simply “victims” of Israeli aggression either.

Thank you

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

You state that the Hamas rockets broke the cease fire, however I believe that the Israeli’s broke the cease fire on November 4 when they killed, I believe, 6 Palestinians in Gaza. This is a fact and should have been included.

Posted by JD | Report as abusive

That the comments here are not unanimous about which slant Reuters takes is evidence enough that the slant is small or confined to a few specific reporters.

Dave P was also right on the money when he said that complaints about lack of context are invalid. Reuters can’t be expected to rewrite the entire history of the Middle East every time they post an update. The context is here, and a basic search will turn it up.

Posted by Drewbie | Report as abusive

Since most people will have either a pro-Israel bias, or a pro-Palestinian bias it follows that most reporters will too.

Why not subject all the news stories from each group to editing by members of the other group. Better yet, allow each group to write their own stories as they wish and then have members of the ‘other’ group decide which of these stories will be published.

A little back-and-forth negotiating will surely iron out most of the worst issues.

Posted by Ercillor | Report as abusive

Hamas rockets started on November 4th? They have been doing it all along. According to Hamas, there will be no true peace as long as Israel exists. A quote from the Hamas Charter:

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

As for Reuters trying not to be bias, what about the staged false pictures published by them some years ago showing direct bias toward Palestinians?

Posted by Jerome of Texas | Report as abusive

Considering that you’re getting beat up by proponents of both sides of the issue it seems that your reporting is probably pretty centrist.

Posted by mostly pro-human | Report as abusive

For your readers, I read your releases, and many others pro Israel and against Israel. It is my observation the most bias reporting of all media is the Associated Press, more so than even the Muslim sites. Normally I spend a hour or two a day reviewing various media and rank them in my mind.
I think you are one of the better reporting agencies, but I do think it would help the readers by a better balancing within any given article. I am forunate to have both Israel and Palistinian friends and both sides have very legitimate grievances against the other.
All the killing will not resolve them, no matter how many are killed on either side
Jim

Posted by Jim McInnis | Report as abusive

I read your articles and want to throw up. I am sorry to say, I find nothing fair or balanced in your reporting. Most of the world is anti-jew and would like nothing more than to have them disappear from the face of the earth. It is totally evident all through history. I feel sorry for the real people of Gaza who brought this down upon themselves for letting Hamas take control. Everyone knows that they are murdering terrorists. Just as they threw living people off high buildings when they overthrew Fatah, they drag children and women
into the line of fire.
Get this straight, I am not saying you are lying, just that your reporting sucks. It is incomplete! It feels like the stories are at least 20 to 1 in favor of Hamas.

Posted by YAEL TAUBMAN | Report as abusive

The stories lack context, but that is not surprising. It is hard to give the appropriate context without appearing too moralistic. Reuters is more or less fair – unfortunately, putting the victim on equal footing is “fair” but not very humane.

The fact is, as it has been for the last century, that the Zionist system is a white nationalist striving for ethnic cleansing and racial / cultural identity politics. It is a grotesque rhetoric, and there simply aren’t many cases of ethnic cleansing where it seems acceptable to give both “sides” fair ground. The 30% children deaths indicates clearly that the Israeli violence is indiscriminate and targets civilians.

I urge people to read Haaretz, Ramattan and Al Jazeera. Reuters can try all its wants to be impartial about the IDF ethnic cleansing, but it is only when you see the Israelis defendign the practices directly, and the Pals expressing resistance directly, that the conflict becomes meaningful, real or contextual.

Posted by Dean | Report as abusive

I suggest you first look for bias at a more basic level. Why in battles are Hamas always called “militants” and the IDF always “soldiers”? Going by the dictionary and modern usage of the terms, we could very easily exchange the two and make it “Hamas soldiers and Israeli militants”. The armed wing of Hamas, al-Qassam Brigades fits the definition as an intentionally armed and conscripted entity, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionar y/soldier. Likewise, the IDF could easily fit into “militancy”, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionar y/militant. Either though, would have a hard time being real “combatants”; Hamas because they put on civilian clothes, Israel because they target civilians (or come very close to).

The reason is plain as day: militant is a byword for terrorist. The media has a sometimes subconscious desire to paint Hamas as evil terrorists by calling them “militants” and Israel as just another typical army by using the more well respected “soldiers”, regardless of the reality of each term.

Posted by Sammy | Report as abusive

Excellent post Dean!!! By and large, Reuters is a great source for real time news. Are they perfect? Or course not. But there is a reason that all the other news outlets get their leads from the Reuters newswires. Keep up the great work.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

RIGHT ON!!!!! Hamas is a terrorist organization. Terrorist use their own people for their cause which is to kill. Look up the definition of terrorist. Israel went through all the hoops of the negotiations. Terrorists are like tigers, lions, bears…they want to eat you not negotiate with you. Enough is enough. Hamas wants a war on a larger scale that is why they would never stop the missile attacks backing Israel into a corner. They want worldwide attention as they place Israel into the corner of defending itself to invoke pity from the Worldwide community creating Israel as the enemy. Even the UN can not be trusted. Israel knows that. Israel must do what they have to do at this time for the future of the survival or they will be wiped out. Our country would not accept terrorism on its on soil and Israel can not either. How can anyone even consider that Israel should negotiate Hamas…it is like negotiating with a great white shark…that just wants eat you anyway. What the Worldwide community should be angered about is the use of the innocent palestinian peoples as human shields. That should anger us against Hamas or any terrorist organization…the use of innocent victims to satisfy their murderous organization invoking war. Terrorists are not about peace.

Posted by arlene johnson | Report as abusive

Just a comment: all this talk about being on the ground in Gaza, makes you realize: there’s blogging, and there’s real journalism.

Posted by Victor Purinton | Report as abusive

The Iranian press are biased towards Hamas as would be expected with Al Jazeera. The western media too has to be sensitive to their own constituencies. Surprisingly, the Chinese and the Indian press seems to be neutral or even downplaying the whole issue even though historically they have favored the Palestinian cause. Right now an elephant is suffocating the life out of a mouse. If there is a fair media then it should say so. If in the reports, the mouse is somehow implicated in the crime then we know where the bias is.

Posted by Sohail | Report as abusive

I have to say out of all the media outlets I use, I commend Reuters the most for its efforts in reporting the Middle East conflict objectively, as most American news sources have failed in doing so.

Of course, people are going to complain about lack of impartiality when covering the Gaza conflict, mostly because they’re rather close their eyes to the bloodshed and say its part of “Operation Cast Lead.”

The truth is, Gaza has been an open prison for much of the past 18 months, with collective “punishment” on the Palestinian people for legitimately electing Hamas as its government in 2006. The people were sick of a U.S.-sponsored Fatah party, with its corruption and lack of sensitivity to the Palestinian cause, but Western governments refused to recognize Hamas (although it has offered Israel 50 years of peace).

What Gaza is becoming quickly, as Pope Benedict’s minister for peace and justice said, “a big concentration camp.” And Israel’s response was to call him a “Holocaust denier.” He didn’t deny the Holocaust, he just stated that another one is happening before our eyes!

Taher

Posted by Taher | Report as abusive

Do Palestinians suffer? Of course they do! Should Palestinians suffer? Naturally they should! Hamas is no creation of the State of Israel, so why should Israelis suffer because Hamas (like Hezzbolah) has a hidden agenda? Since they live in the midst of the Palestinians where they hide and from where they perpetrate endless crimes against the Israelis, many innocents are bound to get hurt. Why not the Palestinians?

If the West wants to firm a position of neutrality in the Gaza conflict, so be it. But maybe it should take some time off and do something about the ONE MILLION inocent people that the Muslim Militia killed, so far, in Darfur. This true genocide took place without so much as a by the way from the old European Left that has been recently re-labeled as “liberals, defenders of democracy”.

I have always found Reuters to be one of the more fair and balanced news outlets. I believe coverage of Gaza, however, could be more fairly covered, such as in the case of Israeli strikes against Gaza. The strike should be reported and all the damage it caused, then Israel should be allowed to give a reason for the reported strike, and the rocket and mortar attacks by Hamas should also be reported, while allowing Hamas to explain why they are taking such actions.

Posted by Shane | Report as abusive

““Unlike many media organizations who complain that ‘there are no journalists in Gaza,’” says Macdonald, “we are very fortunate to have a team of up to 20 people working for us, led by professional journalists of long standing.”

Okay replace the word Gaza with Japan and set the clock at 1944. That is what I see, a land under attack, lying boldly that there is no valid reason that foreigners have attacked them. That they are winning. And that must keep fighting for the emperor (uh Allah).

/And you wonder why professional solders in armies around the world distrust reporters. It is because of what you print as the truth from your “unbiased professionals”. Seriously never ever be surprised when a soldier screws you over or if on duty brushes you off. Reuters you earned their distrust, because history says you got it wrong repeatedly.

Posted by VultureTX | Report as abusive

There is always plenty of talk from both sides about bias in the case of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but the real bias is in the overall quantity, not the content. The fact that there is such sustained saturation coverage of this conflict and this conflict alone, while far deadlier conflicts in so many other countries are simply ignored should tell us that something is seriously wrong. Far deadlier conflict goes on virtually unreported in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with barely a wimper from the media. The existence of such ‘chosen conflicts’ (Israel-Palestine) and such ‘stealth conflicts’ (DRC) cannot be properly justified in terms of national interest or in terms of humanitarian concern. It is this total lack of proportion in media coverage of the world as a whole that deserves far greater attention. (see http://stealthconflicts.wordpress.com/ for more discussion on this issue).

Context goes back further than Palestinian rockets. Context could be: Drive a million people off their land, stick them in a veritable prison camp surrounded by walls and sentry towers and restrict their access to food, medicine and water. Crush the fledgling economy with infrastructure attacks and a total ban on exports. Answer stone-throwing with bullets; respond to homemade fertilizer bombs with F-16s and white phosphorus.
That’s context right there.
The fact is there is a terribly disproportionate balance of power in this conflict, to be balanced, reporting has to cover events in that context.
Israeli has suffered and that deserves to be covered, but it’s just bad journalism to do “equal” coverage of Israeli casualties and property damage when the corresponding Palestinian rates are greater by a power of 100.

Posted by Norman B | Report as abusive

Having stopped visiting some news outlets but not Reuters over this very issue. I find this whole article and the responses informative and necessary.
For the record my stance is against Terror. Whoever is delivering it. No matter what label is attached to the perpetrators.
I am sure The Brave staff at Reuters Would like to express how upset they are at being shelled right now.
On the other hand just a tad fearful of voicing there full angst whilst there is fair chance they may not get out alive if they do.

Posted by Nick | Report as abusive

You are reporting that hospitals and schools are shelled and bombed without reporting that Hamas is using those hospitals and schools as sites for weapons and personnel.

It is completely clear that the Arabs are doing this, yet Reuters does no investigative reporting of this important issue. Why?

Posted by Mickey Langan | Report as abusive

There is no objectivity in eye-for-an-eye scenarios.

The chain of they did that, so we must do this goes back decades.

The only truth is that Rocket attacks continue & it is politically untenable for the Admins in Israeli Government to allow this. Think about the psychological profile of a nation that still has holocaust survivors alive. Combine that with the fact that the war-hawks are always right. The attacks continue.

That said. Blockades, virtual imprisonment, makes for opression. Combine that with settlers from the opressors within the territorys, & you have nearly a qualification for intention to commit GENOCIDE under the terms of the UN-ratified genocide convention.

The irony is supreme, Israel had to use guerilla warfare against the BRITISH! to realize their dreams of statehood, but Israel cannot solve by force the problems created by this history. The arabs were always wary of too many jews in the region.

Everyone needs to read
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_ Israel#Introduction:_Jewish_History_in_I srael

Specifically:
In September 1947 the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommended partition in Palestine, a suggestion ratified by the UN General Assembly on November 29, 1947.[22] The result envisaged the creation of two states, one Arab and one Jewish, with the city of Jerusalem to be under the direct administration of the United Nations.
Fighting between the Arab and Jewish communities of Palestine began in November 1947, immediately after the UN decision to create a Jewish state. The Arab States declared they would greet any attempt to form a Jewish state with war and leaders of the Palestinian-Arab community promised a “fight to the death”.[23]

This has never ceased. Period. What are we all to do in the face of such grind-stones of history?

Posted by Damon | Report as abusive

The problem is that Reuters is showing nothing but pictures of Israeli aggression, and Palestinian suffering. You are taking the suffering of the people out of military context.

Where are the pictures of Hamas militants? Or rockets being fired every day? By your own admission, you have staff in Gaza. If Hamas was photographed firing from a hospital, it would validate the Israeli claims. So where are your pictures?

It is natural that people will emphasise with images of suffering. They will seek anything to stop suffering, if they see it on the news. Compare with genocide in Africa, where there is no news and thus no public interest in what happens.

By showing and reporting on nothing but suffering, you are implicitly assisting Hamas. You are giving them the coverage they claim, and creating the outrage which they constantly seek to provoke. With your coverage to assist them, they are encouraged to base their soldiers in civilian areas, leading to inevitable casualties.

A terrible disappointment, Reuters. I doubt this comment will even be posted by your moderators.

Posted by Spooky | Report as abusive

From the original article:

“For the past two years, he says, it has been virtually impossible for Reuters staff in Gaza to leave the territory for training, rest or recuperation, as they are routinely denied exit permits by the Israeli army. The army has also prevented Reuters from sending Arabic-speaking staff based in Jerusalem or the West Bank to Gaza and more recently has banned foreign journalists from Gaza entirely. This means Reuters has been unable to send reinforcements or replacements to the Gaza bureau since the Israeli offensive began on Dec. 27. On Thursday, Reuters and other media were forced to evacuate their offices after an apparent Israeli rocket strike on the Gaza building that houses the bureau.

“…Within Gaza, says Macdonald, senior Hamas officials have generally accepted Reuters’ right to report independently.”

So one side seeks to restrict open reporting of events, while the other side allows it. Which side is trying to hide something? Draw your own conclusions.

Posted by W Rood | Report as abusive

Israel has become an abomination in the eyes of the world. Americas jackboot on the face of the arabs. For what? for oil, For power, For control. Forever.

Posted by Wisdo | Report as abusive

CORRECTED VERSION:
I wasn’t offended by any of that. But I kind-of feel left out now.

Seriously, one thing Reuters seems to have done that most other news outlets have not done is to have avoided using the term “terrorism” as if there is a generally accepted and applied, empirical definition of it. There isn’t but most use the term as if there is. By not using the term, Reuters achieves a level of journalistic integrity that few other outlets can match.

Posted by Ken | Report as abusive

Thanks to Reuters for being open to the issue and challenge!.

Fairness, beside what is the role of media of highest stature-Reuters, is not just fairness but make the opinion makers and stakeholders to realise their responsibilities over the crisis- violation of human rights, children rights, women rights, right to health, right to water etc.and mobilise and demand for negotiation and peaceful settelement.

with regards
Ahmed India

Posted by Ahmed | Report as abusive

Every one of us is responsible for our own actions..

If you are living under occupation for 60 years and your kids and your families have no future. You will do exactly what Hamas and Palestinians are doing fighting for freedom and Survival. Israel has shown again that Israel has no value of Human life. Every one of us is responsible for our own actions.. If Hamas has killed four Israelis it does not mean Israel army go and killed over 1100 mostly women and children.

Israeli government and Army should get charged for WAR
CRIME and CRIME against humanity…… OR it should
Get labeled as Terrorist STATE OF ISRAEL…

Posted by speakamerica | Report as abusive

Great article, in general I find Reuters to be a balanced news agency.

One point:

The cause of the break of this cease-fire has widely been attributed to rocket-fire by Hamas. This study presented on the Huffington Post clearly shows otherwise: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-kanw isher/reigniting-violence-how-d_b_155611 .html

Moreover, part of the conditions of the cease-fire was that Israel would end its blockade of Gaza – which was in place for over a year prior – and this did not happen. The blockade remained for most of the 6-month truce, so in effect, Israel broke the truce from the outset.

Balanced reporting does not mean trying to balance people’s responses to the news, balanced reporting means reporting the truth, in spite of the potential consequences.

-se

Posted by Sharafe Elladen | Report as abusive

Boo-hoo, boo-hoo. So get a real job instead of the narcissitic job of journalist. Real men don’t whine about rest and recuperation:
“For the past two years, he says, it has been virtually impossible for Reuters staff in Gaza to leave the territory for training, rest or recuperation, as they are routinely denied exit permits by the Israeli army.”

Israel IS a terrorist state. Merriam Webster defines terrorism as “violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands”. Israel has been using state of the art (made in USA) weaponry to retaliate against the home made rockets used by Hammas. The facts speak for themselves. Israel lost 3 civilians Palestine lost 1100. Make your own conclusions.

Posted by Cyberwoman | Report as abusive

I’ve found Reuters to be fair and balanced for the most part. What i’ve noticed is that the people who complain the most about a news agency ‘picking sides’ are the same people who have picked one side and refuse to acknowledge the other at all.

Posted by Joshua | Report as abusive

I was going to comment on the editors comment about the ceasefire. But Sharafe Elladen’s comment below summed it up very well. It would be nice if Rueter’s told us “why” Hamas broke the ceasefire rather portraying it as a non-issue or failing to mention it at all like you just did. There are still two sides to this issue. But what you just did by trying to give us the impression the Israelis are guiltless on the ceasefire is exactly why you are percieved as biased.

debrac

Posted by Debra Combe | Report as abusive

Hi:
If Israel cannot live in a Israeli Palestinian Federation, like the Swiss live, then we need to go back to the root cause of this conflict: Europeans!
Europeans are responsible for the WWII where millions perished, add to the pogroms and I can see a good reason for Jewish people wanting to leave Europe. But today is a different story. My solution, get a piece of Bavaria, a piece of Northern Italy, a peace of Switzerland a piece of France and Austria and a piece of Russian by the Sea (they created pogroms against Jews). Transfer all Israelis to Europe and let Palestine to those that want to live in peace. Israelis will do well in secure, integrated, cultural, educated Europe.
The world is tired of the role Israel plays as spy, arms seller, interrogators @ Abu Ghrab and undercover agent, agent provocateurs, for USUK/Europe. The 12 billion dollars a year is money US can use to pay its debts.
The world is becoming a nightmare as this conflict has lasted 60 years. The ethnic cleansing, the lies and propaganda must stop.
When Israel was placed in Palestine I thought that after so much suffering their leader would find a way to create a real democratic culture, where beauty, freedom, justice, respect to nature and human rights would florish and be an example to the whole world.
it has turned out a big mess and never ending occupation and war.
The time has arrived for the creators of the problems to face the dance. Send them all to Europe. It is about time to stop the exporting of European problems south of the Equator. You all send nuclear wastes (after the tsunami, lots of barrels showed up on the coast of Africa), Electronic wastes are sent to Ghana, China, India, Cambodia, old cellphones are sent all over the south as well. The Coltan wars in Congo are to service the cellphone, such ubiquitous apparatus, which is noit a necessity, but a status symbol.
The list can go on, with all sort of gadgets, that serve no real purpose. What is forgotten is that we only have one planet.
Israel is experimenting new weapons on Palestinians and are killing UN personnel on purpose.
So let’s stop the nonsense. Or they live together in one state and a federation of sorts or chip them all to Europe the generators of the problem. Simple.

Posted by Sky Goldsmith | Report as abusive

Why was Sky goldsmith response deleted. It gave some very creative suggestions. Europeans should be the ones paying for the crimes committed by WWII and pogroms. Nor Palestinians.

Posted by peter Lau | Report as abusive

Mickey Langan (Jan. 16, 4:41 a.m. GMT):

This is what we hear from the Israeli side and its sympathizers, that it’s “completely clear” that hospitals and schools and being used as weapons sites, and that it’s therefore justified for the Israeli army to bomb and shell them.

My question: how do we know it’s true? I mean that seriously. I hear the assertion, but I would like to hear it reported as a fact by someone neutral. Maybe it’s true, maybe not – but for now, I have no reason to believe it’s true. The bombing, however, is clearly a fact.

Posted by Eric B. | Report as abusive

How can anyone be reporting fairly on the Gaza situation when Israel has apparently blocked access to the scene of the crimes for the duration of the crimes? Is whatever reporting we now see by reporters living in Gaza or the West Bank? Or perhaps the pictures are coming from Al Jazera?

Why doesn’t anyone ever call the Israeli’s a rogue state? The UN Security Council has called for an immediate ceasefire. The UN’s order has been ignored by both sides. But Israel and not Hamas are members of the UN and are obligated to care for the casualties just as they were supposed to be providing for the economic, educational and health care needs of the Palestinians ever since the occupation began in 1967. They haven’t looked after any one else’s needs but their own in those territories they are also supposed to have given up over forty years ago. The health clinics, schools and now even the food for half the Gaza population, are being paid for by the UN. The Israelis are the more powerful and the more responsible party. That’s apparently want they want us to believe when it comes to military prowess.

And to the writer who actually mentioned the history of the conflict – the UN record is incomplete for 1947 and 1948 – otherwise all the UN records are a better read than Wikipedia. Until I read them I did not understand that the first war occurred because the Israelis redrew the original UN maps and displaced many people who had already made a decision whether they would live in the Palestinian (Arabic speaking) or Jewish areas (officially Hebrew speaking). The Palestinians didn’t redraw the maps to their own advantage – the Israeli’s did that to their own. They didn’t like being discontinuous territories. Look at those early UN approved maps.

The UN Secretary General reminded both sides only last week – especially the Egyptians and Israelis that they must allow refugees to flee the combat zones. Neither of those countries has complied. The situation is manifestly unfair and Israel’s complaint about rockets is almost laughable when none of those rocket attacks were apparently so serious that the Israeli government seriously considered evacuating any of residents of Sderot or Ashkelon. The Israeli’s no doubt loose many times more people to traffic accidents than they lost to the stray rockets. They have not be undergoing a deadly barrage by any means.

What is the point of arguing for fair coverage when most of the relevant international laws and Security Council decisions – not to mention the very consistent condemnation of Israeli behavior for over 60 years by the General Assembly – has been ignored by the would be master of the entire territory – Israel.

Posted by PVR | Report as abusive

> most of the relevant international laws and Security Council decisions… [FTFY have] been ignored by the would be master of the entire territory – Israel

Thank God for that!

Posted by matt | Report as abusive

“We’re not biased. But if we are, it’s because Israel is evil!”

Lol. Do you even take yourself seriously anymore?

355 palestinians killed !!!!
you want to know why the hamas don’t care about their own pepole…
who killed 355 palestinias in 2007… yes the HAMAS!

http://www.btselem.org/Hebrew/Statistics  /Casualties_Data.asp?Category=23&region =TER

355 !!! and more the 2000 wounded.
was there a global condimnation? where are the reports?
do you realy think they care about children? hospitals? schools? its all the need for an islamic state.

WAKE UP!!!

Posted by raz | Report as abusive

what do you want from israel? they consider the HAMAS an enemy so they don’t open thier borders.

DID YOU FORGET THAT GAZA HAS A BORDER WITH EGYPT? DID ANYONE ASKED HIM SELF WHY THIS BORDER IS NOT OPENED?

Posted by ahmad | Report as abusive

Dean,

With the greatest respect, I do not believe you would feel the need to blog an editorial ethics post like this on your coverage of any other country that prevented media access to civilian residential areas it had placed under siege , that lethally targetted journalists and their support workers , including your own, that similarly targetted or hindered the work of the Red Cross and UN and whose own media spokesman routinely accused the international media of bias rather than provided explanations for the disporoprtionate use of force and unacceptable numbers of civilian deaths.

It seems to me that Reuters does feel very uncomfortable covering events in Israel , Gaza and the West Bank and also feels under some pressure to be ‘fairer’ towards Israel than the circumstances warrant .

1,000 deaths the majority civilian inflicted by a state that receives – without question – three billion dollars in miltary aid from the US per year.

What do people fear about criticising Israel Dean?

Do they fear alienating some real or imagined pro-Israel lobby?

Does that lobby exist?

If so, is it somehow pressuring the US to keep blindly funding and supporting Israel no matter what?

Are Reuters journalists free to investigate this widespread belief – because that is what it is – bearing in mind Israeli spokesman’s Mark Regev’s routine claims that the media is being manipulated by Hamas and other Palestinian groups.

Could you investigate that claim too?

If Reuters editorial team cant match the courage and integrity of its reporters in the field and investigate with integrity or raise pressing humanitarian issues in an Emil Zola like way then people will look for alternative news sources.

Not many organizations or people really get what is going on in Israel and the Occupied Territories unless you live it/see it first hand.
It’s hell on Earth for both sides of civilian life along the Wall and in the Gaza strip (which truly is like a concentration camp as the Vatican described)- guns, violence, fear and suspicion everywhere. While there are many moderate minded Israelis and Palestinians working for justice and peace–we don’t hear their voices/read about their activities nearly enough.

It’s a shame that the media can not broadcast the news unfiltered without having to justify every move – who will take acception and who won’t. Does the media scrutinize itself on issues like Congo, Darfur, Sudan, Cuba, Ukraine to such a degree? NO – why, too much money – US money/our ties to Israel distorts our reality. Look at our national budget – its in black and white the $$$ we send and have sent for years.

Thank you for the disclosure – when it comes to this conflict moderate approaches and thinking is diminished because radical idealogies and actions take center stage – for 60 long years. Typically, the only focus is the violence and not sustaining coverage to pressure for peace.

I am ashamed that the world – not just Europe since the Balfour Agreement, and not just the US sending billions year after year in the name of Israel having a right for existence, and protection, yet the entire world could/would not stop this war machine that has perpetuate far too long – on both sides.

Gaza is a cesspool and the West Bank is not far behind… no matter who lead(s) the Palestinian people – Israel as a government body politic does/is not fostering autonomy for this people- it’s not their agenda. They want control and as much land as they can legally and illegally confiscate. No one can argue that point – look at the maps, look at the Wall.

Keep your journalists safe – they are doing the best they can in a situation that American’s have little experience at grasping. 9-11 for its horror and ugly aftermath is not a parallel -, we in America, just don’t get it. If we don’t wake up to this reality, and broker lasting peace, the US will remain a target for Islamic fundamentalism/radicalism because ALL they see is that we in the US, and Europe unequivocally support Israel and there is no real room for Palestine to have a say.
Too often the voice for Palestine seems fixed on Hamas, Hezbollah, or some other armed representatives as the voice of Palestine – and, unfortunately the same goes for Israel – the war machine. Keep reporting and highlite those voices for solutions – those are also needed to be heard, and reported on, as noted in the article.

Thank you for your consideration.

Posted by dd | Report as abusive