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August 09, 2005

Chicago Trib Doing PR for Presbyterian Church

Why does a Chicago Tribune news story about a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) divestment campaign against Israel read like a press release issued by the Church itself?

Because, Tribune staff reporter Manya A. Brachear used chunks of the Church’s August 5th press release as her news report; Brachear lifted, near verbatim, two entire paragraphs of the press release, including its partisan language and inaccurate information. For example, the Tribune reported that:

Caterpillar manufactures heavy equipment used for demolition of Palestinian homes, the uprooting of olive trees and construction of roads in the occupied territories limited for use by Israeli settlers.

The Presbyterian Church’s August 5 press release:

Caterpillar manufactures heavy equipment used for demolition of Palestinian homes, the uprooting of olive trees, construction of roads and infrastructure in the occupied territories for use only by Israeli settlers...

There are no “settlers-only-roads” in the territories (or, for that matter, in pre-1967 Israel). This is a common media distortion. In fact, foreigners, non-settler Israelis (including Arabs), and Palestinians with appropriate security clearance are free to use any road. Since the violent uprising against Israel, during which Palestinian vehicles were used in driveby shootings of Israelis, there have been restrictions of vehicles with Palestinian license plates on certain roads.

The Chicago Tribune should consider adopting Northwest Indiana Times ethics policy regarding use of press releases. It states that:

Information in press releases should be confirmed for accuracy before being included in a news story. Any information not independently confirmed must be attributed to the release or statement and its issuing organization.

Posted by CameraBlog at August 9, 2005 04:45 PM

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