The mainstream print press seems averse to covering proportionally the massively greater innocent Palestinian civilian toll–mounting by the hour–than the innocent civilian toll from the October 7th homicide/suicide attack. Granted, western reporters are given full access to those afflicted Israeli villages while being barred from going in to report independently on the Palestinian massacres. Recently the IDF has brought in some embedded journalists, restricted to their seats in armored vehicles, for a few hours before escorting them out of the genocidal war theatre in the tiny Gaza strip.
There are other failures. Compare the massive day after day coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. One observer renamed the New York Times the Ukraine Times, with coverage and giant photography sometimes taking a third of the entire first section of the newspaper. Ukraine coverage is also far, far more extensive than the Times’ coverage of the Bush/Cheney criminal invasion of Iraq, with U.S.-caused casualty and destructive levels far in excess of those incurred so far in the Ukraine battles. Bush/Cheney’s war crimes against a country that did not and could not threaten the U.S. were not called “shock and awe” by the Pentagon for nothing.
Even the headlines betray the Times skittishness in calling out the facts. The editors seem to have trouble using “Israel” as a noun followed by an active verb. (By the way, the Times has no problem using “Russia” as a noun before an active verb.) For example, in its November 11th, 2023 edition, the lead article has the headline: “Gaza’s Hospitals Bear the Brunt as Battles Rage.” Really, the only army bombing hospitals and other health facilities—over 150 according to the World Health Organization of the UN—is the Israeli Air Force, Navy, and ground artillery. Why the passive voice? (By the way—to its great credit, the Times devoted serious resources to reject Israel’s claims that an errant Hamas rocket struck the area within the Al-Shifa hospital compound causing hundreds of casualties amongst Palestinians families sheltering there.)
In the Sunday, November 19th edition, the headline is: “Smoldering Gaza Becomes a Graveyard for Children.”
Really? Is it a smoldering Gaza that is producing a graveyard for children? Or the Israeli armed forces precision bombing at will everything and everyone in that tiny enclave of 2.3 million people? Israel’s Defense and Security Ministers have defined all of Gaza as part of the Hamas target zone, even those who are not political and are remaining silent, which includes most impoverished Gazan families just trying to survive with their children from day to day over the perilous years of Israel’s frequent invasions and 16 year illegal blockade.
Headline writers for the Times were allowed, in that Sunday edition’s Page One, to adopt proper grammatical/factual words in the other Page One articles. Thus: “Jan. 6 Defendant Pleads…” or “Universities Give a Shine to….” or “Columbia Tries to Rein in Herd…” or “College Boards Pushes its Tests…” or “OpenAI Weighs CEO’s Return…”.
Headlines, as we will elaborate in a forthcoming report, are exceptionally important in a short-attention span culture. For many skimming readers, that is often the only impression that they get from the article before they skip to other parts of the newspaper. Journalism schools should pay more attention to headlines and the reporting that follows. Most headline writers do an excellent job under intense time pressure, but when it comes to certain “hot issues”, editors bend them to their will of unwarranted subjectivity and slant.
In recent weeks, the Washington Post has done a better headline job than the Times even though its editorials tend to follow the party line on the Israel/Palestinian conflict.