Was There Media Bias in Reporting of Recent Gaza Conflict?  Depends On Who You Ask.

Last week, the Jewish newspaper, The Algemeiner, criticized CNN for its “horrendous reporting” on the conflict in Gaza.  Pointing to a series of CNN International Tweets, one of which, showed a picture of an explosion along with the following characters, “rockets raining down on Gaza.”

“It is so one-sided, it is so poorly framed…” the Algemeiner argued.  ”…that one would be tempted to excuse CNN; perhaps the 140 character limit had simply been met. But on further review they had only used 50 of their allotted 140 characters.  Plenty of room still to balance the story. Or perhaps somewhere on their twitter feed they had made mention of the fact that four more rockets had landed in southern Israel just this morning? Nope, no mention of it. Or that 50 had been fired into Israel Wednesday night alone. Nope, no mention of it.”

So was CNN reporting from a pro-Palestinian platform? Not according to the thousands of Tweets we read coming from Palestinian’s inside Gaza City during the conflict.  One in particular, directing her anger squarely on Anderson Cooper, and his reports of,  “missiles coming out of Gaza – not one mention of the ones coming in!”

Honest Reporting, an Israeli NGO that monitors media coverage of the Israeli/Arab conflict, recently released an in-depth report analyzing, “a full year of the BBC’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We found that the BBC has a consistent record of portraying Israeli actions in a negative light while increasing sympathy for the Palestinian point of view.”

So, was the BBC was pro-Palestinian, too?  A young Palestinian woman, in response to a BBC report of an overnight exchange of rocket fire, didn’t think so.  She angrily Tweeted her displeasure at the organization’s reporting of the casualties from that particular bombardment; three Israeli’s “killed” – ten Palestinian’s “dead.”  If there was real anti-Israeli sentiment at the BBC, describing Arab’s as merely “dying” while Jews were being “killed” was, most likely, not the best way of displaying it.

I used to live in the West Bank.  I’ve covered the refugee camps in Gaza, been to funerals on both sides, and reported from the center of Intifada’s for an international news agency.  We had a cadre of people working every story with us; producers, camera operators, editors, translators, audio operators and drivers.  We didn’t have Twitter.  Our stories weren’t relegated to spaces on a smart phone.  They were written in long form, re-written, then written again.  And once the script was completed, our story was fact checked.  Then, checked a few more times.  It went through a handful of producers thousands of miles away in comfortable air-conditioned offices in safe buildings, who ran it through a legal department, where every phrase was poured over.  Once it was approved, we tracked it, cut it, fed it to New York and watched it air.  It was a painstaking process, but we had a responsibility to get it right.

Still, after going through all that, there were some who felt we managed to get it all wrong.  There always was.  And there always will be – regardless of the story and despite the news agency reporting it.

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