« "Holocaust in Gaza" Hyperbole | Main | Where’s the Coverage? Media Miss Hamas’ Admission of Kidnapping »

August 27, 2014

Former AP Reporter Pens Devastating Media Critique

Matti Friedman

Matti Friedman's powerful and troubling analysis of what's wrong with journalism when Israel is under the microscope (August 26, 2014, Tablet) should be mandatory reading in journalism schools. Entitled "An Insider's Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth," the piece notes at the outset that:

The lasting importance of this summer's war, I believe, doesn't lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse -- namely hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorist, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry;

Friedman touches on the serious distortions so often detailed by CAMERA, including hugely disproportionate focus on relatively modest faults of the Jewish state and at the same time journalistic neglect of the suffering of millions across the globe and of their tormentors.

He makes the key point that, contrary to what might appear to be intense journalistic interest in the plight of the Palestinians, reporters actually do not have real curiosity about the breadth and depth of that community. Only as Palestinians intersect with Israel do they come into view -- not for themselves. He writes:

If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated.

Framing of the story of what's happening in Israel further skews the reality and misleads news consumers. As Friedman notes,

"A knowledgeable observer of the Middle East cannot avoid the impression that the region is a volcano and that the lava is radical Islam, an ideology whose various incarnations are now shaping this part of the world. Israel is a tiny village on the slopes of the volcano."

Other logical framing of the region would cast Israel with other minority groups. But

The Israel story is framed to seem as if it has nothing to do with events nearby because the "Israel" of international journalism does not exist in the same geo-political universe as Iraq, Syria, or Egypt. The Israel story is not a story about current events. It is about something else.

Posted by AL at August 27, 2014 05:52 PM


This is true apartheid. The world cares not what Muslims do to other Muslims, only what Jews must do in response.

Posted by: Joel Pachter at August 28, 2014 10:16 AM

Can someone address this lie,

Posted by: Sam at August 28, 2014 02:01 PM

Mandatory reading especially for jewish nyt reporters

Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2014 05:25 PM

This is the most articulate and insightful article I have ever read about Israel and the media. Brilliant.

Posted by: Anonymous at August 30, 2014 07:40 PM

Guidelines for posting

This is a moderated blog. We will not post comments that include racism, bigotry, threats, or factually inaccurate material.

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)