Even worse, Zurawik takes it as a given that bullets that hit the Al Jazeera offices last week came from a command from the IDF brass, an absolutely baseless and absurd accusation. There are a lot of layers of command in a modern army, and the idea that an entire chain of command told some Israeli sniper to gratuitously send a message to Al Jazeera - one that would obviously backfire - is nothing but a conspiracy theory.
“There were only a couple Western journalists in Gaza when Israel invaded in 2008,” says Michael Calderone, Huffington Post senior media reporter. “Now, there are dozens covering every air strike in real-time through social media, complete with graphic images of Palestinian civilians, and even children, being killed and injured. So there's a disconnect between Israeli officials' repeated claims on TV about fighting terrorism and extensive footage we're seeing of Israel bombing schools, shelters and hospitals in Gaza.”
From an Al Jazeera story
As Calderone sees it, such images have upended traditional packaging of stories out of Gaza.
“The American public may have seen a few stray images or video clips from Gaza in the past as part of a TV package, but such scenes would be interspersed with the views from experts and government officials,” he said in an email to The Sun. “A network correspondent now can take a heartbreaking video of a Palestinian mother grieving for her lost son, post it on Facebook, and the video will go viral several hours before the evening newscast.”
An online headline from New York Magazine last week put it this way: "'Telegenically dead Palestinians:' Why Israel is losing the American media war."
No one is doing a more thorough job of covering the death and destruction in Gaza than Al Jazeera. Social media are absolutely a driving force in the shift in coverage, but I also believe the heavy presence of Al Jazeera and the excellent work its correspondents and producers are doing have raised the games of all the news organizations on the ground.
Not that Al Jazeera is alone in showing the carnage — far from it.
NBC News correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin has been filing superb reports since the start of the month...[including] coverage this past week of four Palestinian teens being killed by Israeli artillery fire while playing soccer on a beach was heart-rending.
“That’s the story that tipped the balance,” Seib said. “It was so moving, and journalists were right there to report it rather than recounting it third-hand after the fact.”
CNN’s Ben Wedeman has done outstanding work as well. As Israel stepped up artillery and air strikes, Wedeman filed a report in which he followed a Palestinian family of five trying to flee a neighborhood in Gaza City that had been served notice by the Israel Defense Forces that it was about to destroyed.
The CNN camera caught the panic and horror in the faces of two little girls as the first artillery shell rocked the ground on which they stood. The look on one girl’s face and the shriek of terror from her little sister at the sound of the explosion spoke volumes about the kind of emotional and psychological damage being inflicted on another generation.
And now comes Richard Engel, NBC’s chief foreign correspondent, who on Wednesday filed as powerful a report as I have seen in the past two weeks. It featured him riding in Palestinian ambulances that were hopelessly trying to keep up with the injured and dying.
Graphic footage from the report included that of a 24-year-old Palestinian woman buried alive under the debris of a building. She looked like a corpse, with only her grime-encrusted head showing above the dust and dirt. Then her eyes opened slightly and lips moved — followed by a hand rising from the rubble.
But how can he know any better? All he sees is one-sided video coverage from Gaza, coverage that is intended to pluck the heartstrings and to attract journalism prizes. All he sees - as a TV critic - are images that demonize the IDF.
And he calls this outstanding journalism.
There is no doubt that those heartbreaking videos are newsworthy. But there are a lot of stories that are not being covered, or that are being buried, in Gaza. A real critic would not only fawn over the coverage that is being broadcast but demand the coverage that isn't.
Hamas' Interior Ministry instructed Gazans not to discuss anything about Hamas militants, or rocket positions, or military funerals, or anything else that would discuss terrorists shooting rockets in Gaza or using human shields. Some Hamas members or sympathizers are taking that directive much further, actually threatening journalists who report on Hamas firing positions, Hamas gunmen hiding, or Hamas rockets that fall short, or Hamas using civilians as human shields, according to a Jerusalem Post report last week.
It seems unlikely that a bullet would stop Al Jazeera reporters. On the contrary, they would wear it as a badge of honor. It seems far more likely that physical threats against reporters in Gaza would place a chilling affect on their choice of topics.
There are other stories that are being all but ignored by journalists. As I reported, a French-Palestinian journalist told another reporter that he was intimidated by members of the Hamas Al Qsssam Brigades from their office next to the emergency room at Shifa Hospital.
That story was taken down at the reporter's request, no doubt because of threats.
Similarly, Wall Street Journal reporter Nick Casey noted that Hamas created a TV studio in the same hospital and tweeted a photo of a Hamas politician being interviewed there.
He took down that tweet as well.
There is a pattern here. The most prominent stories out of Gaza are the ones that Hamas wants the world to see. The stories that Hamas emphatically do not want want covered are being given short shrift, and finding them is not easy. And too many journalists are seemingly self-censoring out of fear of Hamas.
That is a story a real journalist would cover.
There are essentially no photos or video showing Hamas militants. No coverage of militant funerals (a Fatah funeral was covered incidentally.) Next to no coverage of Hamas rockets falling short in Gaza. Reporters aren't even entertaining the possibility that Hamas could be responsible for any of the damage they are seeing.
Hamas is heavily armed. Hamas has thousands of mortars, rockets, anti-tank guided missiles and more. The fighting has been fierce by any account, killing dozens of IDF soldiers. Hundreds of Hamas rockets aimed at Israel are falling in Gaza Why is every projectile that hits every home and school assumed to be from the IDF?
By any measure, the IDF spends more effort safeguarding the people of Gaza than Hamas does.
By any measure, Hamas has more to gain by the deaths of civilians than the IDF does.
Yet the journalists in Gaza are more interested in blaming Israel for dead children than in actually researching whether Hamas may have killed them - accidentally or otherwise.
Here is a story you will never see from any Gaza reporter, or even from an international reporter in Israel, of testimony from an IDF soldier:
At first, when we crossed the fence and went into Gazan territory, it looked like another training exercise. We felt they would be no match for us, that we were a lot stronger. But the next day, Friday morning, I realized what the difference was between Hamas and us. We saw an elderly man lying wounded on the ground with a bullet in his leg. I approached him to help him up. I stretched out my hand and touched him, and it was then I realized that there were grenades around and underneath him. We moved back, and then he came to throw the grenade at us. One of the soldiers reacted quickly and shot him. Then we learned that he had been 76 years old, and that he had already been in prison in Israel. The level of cynicism they can reach is just beyond belief.Perhaps reporters have reason to be skeptical of such a claim. That is not a reason not to cover it. They are reporting on Gaza civilian casualties without any skepticism as to whether they are really civilian.
The Israeli side of the story is not getting nearly the same attention as the stories that Hamas wants the world to hear. The narratives of a terror organization are being repeated verbatim while Israeli officials, who have a lot more to lose by lying, are assumed to be doing exactly that.
A real journalist would be uncomfortable by this double standard. Praising the relentless one-sided reporting because it is more emotional betrays journalism itself.
(h/t Soccer Dad's Dad)