Thursday, May 03, 2007

THE GOOD AND BAD OF JOURNALISM

There's an excellent opinion piece from Greg Sheridan in today's Australian entitled Rare support for democracy in a sea of misunderstanding. His views are timely coming on the heels of this week's Winograd Report on the failings of the Olmert Government in the conduct of the Second Lebanon War.

Sheridan argues that Israel is a legitimate nation and should not be treated as a pariah. Indeed, the fact that the existing institutions of this embattled nation can produce a report highlighting the mistakes of its own government is a tribute to its democratic nature.

" ... the bigger story is what a vibrant, genuine, problem-solving democracy Israel is to commission such a report and let its findings go where they may. Moreover, the question is not whether Israel is perfect, but are its actions reasonable for a democracy under such constant threat and attack. How would we react in circumstances similar to those Israel faces?

"Anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment are all different, yet they are all intimately related. They draw from diverse sources, yet they are all, in their virulent forms, fundamentally irrational and evidence of psychological and ideological dysfunction rather than genuine analysis."

Sheridan finishes on this note:-

"Yet the UN, and the Left internationally, focuses with obsessive zeal on Israel. I once interviewed Abdurrahman Wahid, the former president of Indonesia and a great Muslim leader, and asked him about the Middle East. Israel, he told me, "is a democracy in a sea of misunderstanding.

"Commentators should write about Israel the same as they write about any other nation, with a desire to tell the truth, know the facts and make judgments based on civilised values. I agree with Wahid. Israel is a democracy - that fact speaks for itself."

These opinions reflect the reality of Israel's conflict with it neighbours. By way of comparison I note that one of the banner headlines in today's Jerusalem Post is telling readers that an ex MP in Jordan has been arrested for criticising the government. And if you try that sort of thing in the West Bank or Gaza, you might end up sharing your lodgings with a certain British journalist.

Sadly, it remains a fact of life that the standards sought by Sheridan are not emulated by others in our media. One needs only to read the one-sided reporting of Ed O'Loughlin of the Melbourne Age to understand how journalists with an agenda can work the system. Writing in this week's Australian Jewish News, Tzvi Fleischer describes how O'Loughlin "brilliantly distorts facts and substitutes opinions for news". Unfortunately, the article is not yet available on the internet and I am unable to provide a link to clearly demonstrate why it is that Fleischer describes O'Loughlin as "a perfect illustration of what is wrong with much of contemporary journalism," so I'll leave you with this example.

3 comments:

The Gharqad Tree said...

A challenge and a question to O'Loughlin.

Why do you never write about this in the reports you send back to Australia?

http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/?p=1510

Anonymous said...

You're wasting your time. If you analyse the Age's reporting of the conflict between Israel and the Arabs you'll find that it rarely reports on that side of the story.

Many Age reports are sourced from The Guardian and O'L sometimes writes in conjunction with that paper. Like much of the British press they show a marked keenness in favour of airbrushing people like Ahmad Bahr and the Hamas Covenant off the face of the earth.

Too damned inconvenient old chum!

Anonymous said...

Firstly, we should congratulate Greg Sheridan on his Jerusalem Prize, He is an honorouable journalist who tells the truth and doesn't mince his words.

As for O'Loughlin, he provides so many low examples of the levels of bastardry down which a journalist can sink. I am not writing this because I support Netanyahu but I've noticed how he always describes Israeli polticians whom he dislikes as "hawkish" (as O does today) or "right wing". On the other hand, he never describes Haniyeh or Nasrallah as advocates of genocide against Jews or Bishara as an accused traitor.