Friday, February 18, 2011

Why News Agencies don't inform

Yaacov Lozowick has a good current post on media coverage of Qaradawi's return to Egypt. Why don't the BBC and CNN provide suitable background information?
You'd expect top-notch news organizations to have someone in their editorial rooms who know something. Even if not, however, there's always Google, which might send one to this informative page about Qaradawi, as posted by the respectable Investigative Project on Terrorism. He has been banned from entering the United States, for example, and in the past two years alone he has publicly said all sorts of unsavory things.
Part of the problem is that facts have become politicized. The ban against Qaradawi's entry into the United States is a fact, but it is potentially also a "talking point." Mentioning it would be taking sides with the "Islamophobic" view of current events in Egypt. To be fair, certain other facts are also avoided from time to time as taking the other side, depending on the news agency. The safest thing to do is not inform the reader of anything except the most banal details of the event at hand or endlessly repeated, formulaic background pseudo-facts.

"The Palestinians," we are endlessly told, "want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state." You can't imagine a news agency writing "Some Palestinian leaders have suggested they would accept a peace agreement involving the return of all pre-1967 East Jerusalem although other leaders reject any notion of a permanent peace with Israel." The later statement is more accurate and informative and these qualities are almost the exact things that make it unthinkable in a contemporary news article from one of the major newspapers or wire services.

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