The Battle of the News Rooms

As a battle rages on in the Gaza Strip another more silent battle is taking place all over the world.

Jerusalem24 – Mohammad Hamayel – Employees at several media outlets in the United States and Europe were surprised when memos were distributed to them regarding coverage in Israel/Palestine. An internal memo sent by CNN’s Jerusalem bureau chief, stressing “the need to be transparent about the fact the Ministry of Health in Gaza is run by Hamas,” as well as a reporting guide from the editor-in-chief at Deutsche Welle (DW) were leaked via social media.

Dena Takruri, an American journalist, on-air presenter, and producer with AJ+, shared CNN’s internal memo through twitter. She tweeted that “this is a page straight out of Israel’s playbook. It serves to justify the attack on civilians & medical facilities.” 

While the reporting guide sent from Deutsche Welle’s editor-in-chief caused much more ire amongst employees of the German media outlet. A source who works at DW who requested to remain anonymous, said that, “yesterday there was a meeting because of a host in the English department who allowed a guest say that what is happening (in Gaza) is a second holocaust.” The source continues, “of course instead of directing criticism to the English department, they instead attacked the Arabic department.”

“One of the dangerous matters in the memo, was requesting that we screenshot any comment that violates the DW netiquette, I felt like I was working for the secret police.”

A page from the reporting guide from Deutsche Welle’s editor-in-chief.

In the DW memo, employees were asked to “screenshot illegal comments and pass them to your department head.” Other points that raised the ire of some was one of the key words mentioned, “apartheid.” According to DW, “We never refer to an Israeli ‘apartheid’ or an ‘apartheid regime’ in Israel. We also avoid referring to ‘colonialism’ or ‘colonialists’. This comes despite several reports regarding Israeli apartheid released by Human Rights organizations such as the one released by the international Human Rights Watch, as well as the report published by the Israeli watch dog organization B’tselem; clearly stating Israel’s Human Rights abuses constitute apartheid.

Commenting on the matter, Dr. Waleed alShuraffa, a professor at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank and an expert on media narratives said that, “This reflects the extent of the sensitivity that Western media institutions attach to the idea of Israel.” AlShuraffa adds that, “this shift that equates between the colonizer and the colonized, and defines them within a Western centrality.” He concludes that, “This is a qualitative addition to the extent of bias.”

The recent events sparked discussions online regarding the years of coverage in the region, as support for the Palestinian people has been on the rise, several journalists have also been defiant regarding editorial policies that have been in place for years. On twitter, Miriam Barghouti, a writer and researcher, who has contributed as a speaker on several media outlets and has worked in the West Bank as a producer for several journalists wrote “Speak to the international journalists that have finished their assignments, positions, missions in #Palestine. I think they’re also the story now. Ask of the pressures they faced, from their editors. Speak to the freelancers that couldn’t get their stories placed in outlets.” Her tweet sparked a thread of tweets of several journalists, complaining and accusing several media outlets of bias in their coverage of events in the region. 

Mohammad Hamayel

Ramallah based journalist, Mohammad graduated from Al-Quds University with a B.A. in Media and Television. He has covered the 2015 Jerusalem Intifada as well as the Great March of Return for international media outlets. currently an editor/presenter at Jerusalem24. A UN alumni and a follower of global events and politics, especially American affairs.

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