Sunday, September 6, 2009

Insinuate and inflame

In our post yesterday which looks at Reuters' story on the death of Ghazi al-Zaaneen, we noted Reuters' fatuous claim that Israeli-Palestinian violence in Gaza has been "minimal" since the war ended in January. As demonstrated, the Palestinians have in fact, fired over 200 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilian communities since that time.

Currently featured prominently on the front page of Reuters' AlertNet Middle East website (dedicated to "alerting humanitarians to emergencies") is a highly emotive photo of a young Palestinian girl crying. The caption reads:

"The sister of Palestinian boy Ghazi al-Zaaneen cries during his funeral in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip September 5, 2009. Al-Zaaneen, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy, died on Saturday after being wounded in a shooting incident involving Israeli soldiers in the northern border town of Beit Hanoun, Palestinian medical workers said. A military official, who declined to be named, said soldiers had fired warning shots in the Beit Hanoun area on Friday night after spotting Palestinians approaching Israel's border."

Though the loss of a 14-year-old is always tragic, it's fascinating to watch Reuters string together nothing but innuendo in an effort to affix blame to Israel for his death. Note the equivocal language in the caption above: "a shooting incident involving Israeli soldiers"; a "military official who declined to be named"; "soldiers had fired warning shots in the Beit Hanoun area". Reuters actually tells us nothing conclusive about the incident but of course, there is plenty of guilt by association accompanied by an inflammatory photo which betrays an appeal to pity.

If we were reporting on this incident, we would want to know if al-Zaaneen was armed. We would try to determine if he had approached or breached the Israel-Gaza border. We would investigate whether there were other armed Palestinians in the area at the time. If so, we would want to know whether those Palestinians had also fired shots. We would ask the Palestinian medical workers who examined al-Zaaneen to identify the caliber of the bullet which killed him. In other words, we would investigate and report, rather than insinuate and inflame.

But then, we don't work for Reuters.

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