Sunday, February 14, 2010

Warning: Certain JTA stories about Israel may not be truthful

The following has been reprinted in its entirety, at behest of Mattot Arim, who sent it to me this morning.

Warning: Certain JTA stories about Israel may not be truthful

You will remember that last year, we all approached the JTA, a news agency serving the American Jewish press, and asked them to correct a story about Israeli settlers who purportedly "threw acid at soldiers". But the JTA, in extensive email correspondence with Mattot Arim, coldly refused to check up on the story adequately – such as, by simply asking a police or army spokesperson for the names and medical records of the "soldiers" purportedly hurt by the "acid."

The JTA was even impertinent enough to put out a special post entitled "We stand by our story"

Other media had written the same thing the JTA did, the JTA boasted, citing the Jerusalem Post, among other media.

The JTA's response gave Mattot Arim an interesting idea. Since the Jerusalem Post has a very good name, we contacted the Post about their "settlers throw acid" story, to see what a good news outfit does when challenged. Was the JTA's poor standard everyone's standard?

No. The Jerusalem Post was fair and professional, unlike the JTA. The Post DID look into our complaint about the seeming falsity of the report. The Post DID contact the Israel Police. And they DID manage to find out that the story was false. Instead of "standing by their story", the Jerusalem Post published a detailed correction, entitled "Claim settlers used acid against police in Hebron unsubstantiated"

Mattot Arim politely brought the Jerusalem Post's hard work and good findings to the attention of the JTA. Here is the JTA Editor's response:

From: Ami Eden

Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 10:53 PM

Subject: Re: attn Ami Eden – (…) inappropriate for you to continue standing by your acid story

I saw the JPost article and plan to write about it in some way.

Since the JTA editor gave that undertaking, many months have gone by. Has the original story been corrected by the JTA, and has the JTA's "stand by our story" post been pulled? No. The "settlers threw acid" allegation, which can by now only be termed a falsehood, still adorns the JTA website.

Conclusion: Please do not automatically believe press reports about "settlers".

And the JTA is not the only example of this problem. For example, a front-page New York Times report a few years ago said that 86% of the land of an Israeli city called Maale Adumim was built on private Palestinian land.

The New York Times was forced to grudgingly admit later, however, that "some differences" between the original story and "new data" did "complicate the picture… The earlier data showed Maale Adumim containing 86 percent private Palestinian land…. According to the new data, however, only 0.54 percent of the settlement is listed as private land." Aha. Not 86% - half a percent and even that, in a list which is not court-tested.

So, it cannot be said too often: Do NOT blindly believe JTA, NYT, and many other news media when they write about Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Sometimes news media's political beliefs may overcome their journalistic skills, making their stories unreliable fare for readers. Please pass this on.

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Lurker said...

This is hardly surpising coming from the same media outlet that chose to hire the Goldstone-wannabe Israel-basher, radical leftist/anarchist Daniel Sieradski (aka "Mobius", aka "The Orthodox Anarchist") as their Director of Digital Media. (He worked at the JTA for two years until even they got fed up with him.)

ProfK said...

From the time of the famous "Dewey Wins" headlines up until now, the Press, including the "Golden Boys" has always been quick to shoot first and ask if they shot the right person later, if ever. You expect better of the NY Times, whose motto should read "All the news that fits in print"? And you expect fairness when reporting about Israel? Next you'll tell me you believe in the tooth fairy.

jonathan becker said...

very well done. kudos muqata and mattot arim. too little too late, of course. but we do what we can. there are still huge #'s of people out there who still believe in the mohammed dura fairytale. what can we do? the game is played in realtime now, and i'm glad there are bloggers like muqata on the case. i'm also glad they (you) are doing followup. but followup is becoming less and less important in the realtime world of the internet. my only hope is such followup may influence decision makers, but i'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

JTA should be singled out for their continuous and obvious bent against all things Orthodox or Israel.....

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