Monday, September 28, 2009

Reuters in need of Jerusalem points-of-interest guide, remedial grammar lesson

In a follow-up story to its report yesterday on violence at the Temple Mount/al-Aqsa mosque compound, Reuters' Alastair Macdonald quotes the Palestinian Authority and a variety of other Palestinian sources warning of a third intifada (violent uprising) and accusing Israel of using the incident as a pretext to foil peace talks.

In describing the location where the violence occurred, Macdonald adopts an exclusively Arab Muslim narrative and refers only to the Muslim sites at the compound:

"Muslim holy site"
"al-Aqsa mosque"
"Islam's third holiest site"
"Dome of the Rock"
"the mosque compound"
"al-Aqsa mosque" (again)

Macdonald also employs the factually incorrect, historically misleading, and racially-loaded phrase "Arab East Jerusalem" which we have discussed at length here.

Nowhere in his story does Macdonald refer to the religious site with the term denoted by Jews, "Temple Mount", nor does he mention that it is the Jewish people's holiest shrine. This is not a trivial point nor is it an issue peripheral to the story as Macdonald, Reuters' Bureau Chief for Israel, in all probability understands. For while Israel has granted administrative management of the site to the Waqf (Islamic Religious Authority), Israel maintains sovereignty and the governing parties have agreed to accommodate Jewish visitors who wish to ascend the Mount.

Thus, the stone-throwing and rioting by Muslims yesterday represents both a violent attack on innocent Jewish congregants (and police) as well as a violation of agreed principles. One would never know this reading Macdonald's heavily biased piece.

In describing yesterday's violence, Macdonald reports:

"In Sunday's incident police fired tear gas and stun grenades at hundreds of Palestinians who had gathered in anticipation of such a move by groups associated with Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Stones, chairs and other objects hit police."

Macdonald may wish to consider enrolling in a remedial grammar class as his paragraph implies that Israeli police initially assaulted Palestinians followed by inanimate objects acting violently, and apparently unaided, against police. What Macdonald meant to write of course, is that Palestinian Arabs hit police with stones, chairs and other objects; police responded by firing tear gas and stun grenades.

Reuters correspondents do appear to have difficulty holding Palestinians responsible for their actions, while chairs seem to take on a life of their own.


  1. The bias is so obvious - "chairs hit police" is there anything anyone can do to get a response? Even the NY Times has someone who supposedly looks into the biased reporting (and then usually repsonds that there is none).

  2. Yes, it's an uphill climb, particularly when the Bureau Chief himself (Alastair Macdonald) is complicit in producing some of the most appalling examples of reporting bias and propaganda.

    If you have written to Reuters' "editor" at the email address we provide and not received a reply, we might suggest another email (with a link to our site) forwarded to the attention of Dean Wright, Reuters' Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards.

    According to his bio here:

    Wright is charged with seeing to it that Reuters adheres to its Trust Principles (see column right) and he has written on the "public's "dim view" of news organizations so perhaps more than other Reuters' managers, he is sensitive to criticism that the agency is failing in its mission.

    R-MEW editors are also currently planning on raising the issue at future Thomson Reuters shareholder meetings.