Saturday, February 20, 2010

All the news that's fit to print?

One of the more insidious forms of media bias involves the editorial decision on which stories to carry and which to ignore.  Insidious because the media company can profoundly influence public opinion by drawing attention to certain events, i.e., those that fit the editorial agenda, while disregarding others which are comparably newsworthy but undermine that agenda.  The latter leaves not a trace of bias.

Over the last few weeks, Reuters has run stories on, 1) the Israeli government revoking the residency status of Jerusalem-based Palestinians who have left the country for more than seven consecutive years, 2) a lawsuit filed by the former maid of the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu alleging a salary shortfall and "humiliation" associated with a demand to change clothes during the course of the day, and 3) claims of sexual abuse against an Israeli rabbi.

During that same period, Reuters has chosen not to run stories on, 1) the Jordanian government stripping Palestinian Arabs of their Jordanian citizenship, 2) the purchase of a $4 million property in Gaza by Palestinian leader Ismail Haniyeh, and 3) the suspension of Rafik Husseini, the director of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s bureau, due to alleged sexual and financial misconduct.

Now frankly, we could care less about the tawdry details of a sex scandal involving a high Palestinian official but we wonder, given the wider implications of corruption in the Palestinian Authority and the lethal intimidation employed to silence whistleblowers (the PA executes those convicted of  "collaboration"), is this story any less newsworthy than that of a maid who was asked to change uniforms?

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