Thursday, April 28, 2011

Landslide bias

Following its 1948-49 invasion, conquest, and illegal occupation of land sandwiched between the nascent state of Israel and the Jordan River, the Kingdom of Transjordan ethnically cleansed the entire Jewish population from the area.  The territory was subsequently dubbed by its new Arab rulers "the West Bank", a reference to its location on the west bank of the Jordan.  Israel's appellation for the land is "Judea and Samaria" a reference extending back some three millennia to the existence of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

The competing designations reflect competing claims to the land and thus, an unresolved dispute over sovereignty between the Jews and the Arabs.  Under such circumstances, Reuters is compelled by its commitment to be socially responsible to provide readers with both of these competing designations:
We must be on alert for language that could imply support for one side of a conflict, sympathy for a point of view, or an ethnocentric vantage point. We should, for example, provide the dual names of disputed territories. We must not parrot any loaded expressions used by our sources, except in quotes and official titles. Generic references to a specific country as “the homeland” for example, are unwelcome.
In practice however, Reuters fails miserably in this commitment, referring to the land as "the West Bank" versus "Judea and Samaria" by a ratio of over 150:1.

When quoting Arab politicians for example, Reuters almost never clarifies that "the West Bank" is synonymous with "Judea and Samaria".  Conversely, when an Israeli politician, in this case, the Prime Minister, identifies the territory using Israel's appellation, Reuters correspondents Mohammed Assadi, Ori Lewis and Jerusalem Bureau Chief Crispian Balmer are punctilious about including the Arab-ethnocentric name for the same:
He [Netanyahu] said the surprise announcement of a reconciliation deal "exposes the Palestinian Authority's weakness and raises questions whether Hamas will take hold of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) as it took hold of the Gaza Strip."
Reuters, meticulous in its bias.

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