Friday, September 2, 2011

Reuters, the unscrupulous gatekeeper

Reuters devoted untold barrels of ink last year in a propaganda campaign designed to demonize Israel for its naval blockade of the Hamas-held Gaza Strip and boarding of the Islamist ships trying to run that blockade in May.

The United Nations has now released its report on the incident which found Israel's blockade to be entirely legal in international law.  The investigative panel also said the flotilla "acted recklessly" in trying to breach the blockade and that there were "serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives" of the Islamist İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH), which organized and manned the flotilla. 

Turkey has, in response to the report, expelled Israel's ambassador and terminated military cooperation with Israel.  Here's how Reuters reports on events:
(Reuters) - Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador and senior Israeli diplomats and suspended military agreements Friday, the day after it emerged a U.N. report said the Jewish state had used unreasonable force in a raid on a Gaza-bound ship that killed nine Turks.
Stung by Israel's refusal to meet demands for a formal apology, pay compensation for families of the dead, and end the blockade of Palestinians living in the Gaza enclave, Turkey announced it was downgrading ties with the Jewish state further.
"Turkey-Israel diplomatic relations have been reduced to a second secretary level. All personnel above the second secretary level will be sent home by Wednesday at the latest," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference in Ankara.
While it is true that the UN report also found that the Israel Defense Forces had used unreasonable force following the attempted lynching of the boarding party by passengers, Reuters fails to disclose the relevant findings which exonerate Israel, from any claim of illegal behavior, until the fourth paragraph of the story:
Turkey's reaction to the long-awaited report, which also declared that Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip was legal, deepened Ankara's rift with Israel.
Thus, a key conclusion of the report, demonstrating Turkey's rank hypocrisy and contempt for international law in allowing the flotilla to sail, is mentioned only once in the story, buried four paragraphs down.

The power of an editor to decide what is published and where it is positioned is known as gatekeeping.  Reuters demonstrates here how to use that power to advance its own editorial agenda and violate its corporate governance charter.

UPDATE SEPT 3, 2011: The Reuters story cited above has been updated, with the first mention of the UN finding exonerating Israel buried deeper still, now in the 13th paragraph.

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