Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reuters' Jeffrey Heller continues to correct course

We have in the past, been critical of Reuters' correspondent Jeffrey Heller for serial violations of the Reuters Handbook of Journalism including acute bias in his Middle East reporting.  Since the beginning of the New Year, Heller appears to be adjusting the content and style of his pieces to provide a more balanced account of events and to more closely conform to the prescriptions (and proscriptions) found in the Reuters Handbook.

As an illustration, Heller's story on Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Gush Etzion on Israel's Arbor Day includes a reference to Israel's name for the disputed territory (Judea and Samaria) otherwise known as the "West Bank", the latter being an alias assigned to the area by Jordan following its conquest in 1948.  Although the reference to Judea and Samaria appears as the last two words in his article and Heller sardonically characterizes the territory as one that "many Jewish settlers claim a God-given right to" (Judea and Samaria are an integral part of the land designated to be the Jewish National Home by the League of Nations), Heller at least mentions its alternate title.

For perhaps the first time, Heller also goes beyond the ambiguous phrase "reign in militants" to describe Palestinian obligations under the Road Map peace plan.  After citing the Israeli commitment to freeze all settlement activity, Heller accurately references the Palestinian commitment "to begin dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure" (though he fails to report that this commitment has not been met).

Finally, Heller appears to have abandoned his many fatuous attempts to relieve the Palestinians of responsibility for the current impasse in negotiations with Israel.  In the recent past, Heller had consistently been writing that peace talks "could not" proceed absent a complete halt in Jewish settlement activity.  We noted the farce of this notion here.  In his most recent story, Heller is more forthcoming:
The Palestinians refuse to talk with Israel until it stops all settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas it captured in a 1967 war.
Subtle but notable improvements all; we hope to see further quality gains.

UPDATE 1/27/10: One of our readers notes that Heller is still referring to the eastern part of Jerusalem as if it were a separate city, capitalizing "East".  We have written extensively about this in previous posts and clearly, we believe that this misnomer should be corrected as well; however, it is an improvement over Reuters' frequent use of the racist epithet "Arab East Jerusalem".

1 comment:

  1. The same people who scoff at God given rights for Jews, often support non-publication of the Danish cartoons and the right of Muslims to Jerusalem based on purely religious grounds.

    It is fun to engage them in discussion, establish their views on these varying topics then ask why the God of the Muslims takes precedence over that of the Jews and Christians.

    They usually squirm a bit.