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Friday, April 27, 2007

More proof of media bias in Gaza

Yesterday I wrote about how everyone admits that the media coverage in Gaza is overwhelmingly tilted to make Palestinian Arabs look as sympathetic as possible. Journalism, in Gaza, has a clear agenda and the reporters play their parts perfectly.

Further proof can be seen from this article about a Gaza-based photographer who just won a $15,000 award for a photograph of a dead child at a funeral in Gaza:
A PALESTINIAN photographer for AFP has won an Arab award for a picture of the funeral of a Palestinian child killed during an Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip.

Mahmud Hams, 27, a native of Rafah, bagged the prize for photography of the Arab Journalism Awards handed out by Dubai Press Club at the end of a two-day Arab media forum in Dubai on Wednesday.

The US$15,000 prize "is a boost which will prompt me to work with more enthusiasm", said Hams. "I am happy to be able to convey the Palestinian people's daily reality."
If one looks at the news photo archive at Yahoo (which cover the past month) we can see all of the photos that Mahmoud Hams took. Here is the breakdown (not counting older file photos or non-Gaza photos):

Palestinian Arab political figures making speeches: 2
PalArabs seeking shelter after sewage flood: 2
Grieving relatives after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza: 7

How does Hams cover stories that could possibly put Palestinian Arabs in a poor light? He manages to make them look heroic anyway!

There was a crippling garbage worker strike in Gaza this month, and there were piles of garbage everywhere rotting in the streets. But the only Hams photo that mentions the strike is this one:

A Palestinian boy stands in front of blaze from garbage piled up in a street in Gaza City during a general strike by municipality workers.(AFP/Mahmud Hams)

There were many murders in Gaza over the past month, and security is nonexistent. So how does Hams cover this story?

Palestinian Hamas militants hold up their weapons while attending a press conference in Gaza City, 2006. The Palestinian government on Saturday voted to implement a security plan aimed at restoring order in the Palestinian territories and unifying diverse security forces.(AFP/File/Mahmud Hams)

And the generic cute kid picture, flying that wonderful flag of theirs:


What pictures are missing?

Considering that during the past month, Gazans managed to be outkilled by PalArabs compared to by Israelis by a ratio of roughly 30-6, one would expect pictures of dead bodies from clan clashes, or wailing relatives, or perhaps people injured in infighting. A family carried a corpse into a PA government building and shot the place up - where was Hams? A 5-year old girl was shot in the head, two 12-year old boys were killed - where was Hams? Police attacked 5 PalArab journalists - where was Hams? A Christian bookstore was bombed in Gaza - where was Hams? Video stores and libraries were burned down - where was Hams?

Apparently, in the alternate Gaza universe that Hams and his journalist friends choose to show the world, we not include such unpleasant topics. And what editor can resist a picture of smiling Palestinian Arab kids waving flags - when they have no other pictures to show?

UPDATE: Dave at Israellycool had noted a similar award, for a similar picture, also given to Hams two weeks ago where Hams actually "dedicated the prize to Palestinian martyrs."

Given that, I believe that "bias" is not an accurate word when referring to Hams - it is "propaganda." (I also believe that "opportunistic" is another accurate adjective, but journalists and photographers always seem to do their work with one eye towards receiving awards, actively seeking out pathos at the expense of fairness.)