Sunday, May 20, 2007

Does Accurate and Complete Coverage Matter?

Israellycool continues his excellent real-time updates of the conflict between the Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, the civilians in Sderot on the receiving end of Qassam rockets and the IDF attempting to shut down these terrorist attacks.

See the post Blogging the Conflict: May 19th-20th, 2007 as well as all the previous posts.

Courtesy of Israel Matzav, (via Israellycool), this video highlights Sderot and what its residents have had to cope with for the last seven years.

Jerusalem Post covers the latest conflict news here, while Ynet's roundup is here. Haaretz article here discusses the response by the government and others to help those in Sderot and neighbouring areas under fire.

One thing worth noting is that the residents of Sderot have been terrorised by Qassam rockets for seven years now.

In that time, truces have come and gone.

Israeli withdrawal from Gaza has come and gone.

Fatah and Hamas control of Gaza has come and gone.

Elections for Palestinian parliament have come and gone.

Western aid for the Palestinians in Gaza has come and gone.

Arafat has come and gone.

Diplomatic 'solutions' like the Road Map have come and gone.

There has only been one constant in all this.

Terrorism in the form of Qassam rockets targeted at civilians.

None of the preceding actions have made any impact.

With that in mind, it is time to check back at how ABC's Middle East Conflict section of their new website is covering the conflict.

The latest headlines and summary lines are:

Friday, May 18, 2007

Israeli tanks advance into Gaza Strip
About 15 Israeli tanks entered northern Gaza on Thursday, a Palestinian security source says.

Israeli gunships hit Hamas again
Israel has launched a new air strike on Hamas militants in Gaza as the Islamic group's fighters again clashed with Palestinian rivals on the streets.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nine dead in Middle East fighting, air strikes
At least nine people have been killed during another day of violence in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza civilians 'killed, wounded' in Israeli air strikes
Israel has launched more air strikes against what it says are Hamas targets in Gaza, killing at least one person, as top officials consider a strategy for stopping rockets being fired at Israeli towns.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Israel continues air raids despite new Gaza truce
Rival Palestinian factions have clinched a new cease-fire deal to end a week of violence that has left more than 50 dead but Israel is continuing to pound targets across Gaza.

Latest Gaza truce holds
A cease-fire between rival Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip appears to be holding.
Some observations:

1. How extensive is the news coverage about the ongoing Qassam rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and their towns?

Clue: it rates a brief mention at the end of one summary line.

2. One can almost see the anguished look and hear the despairing tone in the ABC journalist's voice as he/she says the word 'again' in the headline 'Israel gunships hit Hamas again'.

3. Can you deduce from the headline and summary lines who committed the acts of internecine violence?

Contrast the passive voice used to describe the Hamas-Fatah conflict with the active voice when the Israeli Defense Force gets involved.

4. The award for the most inaccurate, distorted and unbalanced item goes to the first posting on Sunday.

Firstly, the headline 'Israel continues air raids despite new Gaza truce' falsely links the 'air raids' (more accurately described as targeted defensive operations against terrorists threatening Israeli civilians) to the concept of a truce.

Israel's defensive operations are directly related to the incoming Qassam rocket attacks. If there was no truce and no incoming Qassam rocket attacks, then Israel would not respond. If there was a truce and incoming Qassam rocket attacks, then Israel would respond to try prevent these attacks.

A pretty straightforward concept which passed straight over the ABC editor's head.

Secondly, there is no attribution to the 50 dead, nor an indication of whether these are civilians or terrorists. The latter of course would be described as 'militants' in ABC-speak.

Thirdly, use of the word 'but' strikes a somewhat accusatory tone. In ABC-Land, it all makes sense: 'The Gazans have reached a truce, so why the continuing pounding by Israel? Tut, tut. Naughty violent Zionists. Again.'

Until one considers that the truce and the Israeli response are not directly related.

Fourthly, the words that describe Israel's air strikes as part of their defensive operations are 'targeted', 'pinpoint' and 'accurate'. The Israel Defense Force (IDF) are renowned for taking out a single moving vehicle, thereby minimising collateral damage to bystanders where possible. This consideration is in fact built into the rules of engagement strictly adhered to by the IDF.

The ABC prefers to use the words 'pound targets' to describe the Israeli response, which could mean (a) repeated strikes - which is somewhat inaccurate because each target has been different - or (b) could mistakenly conjure up images of battering Gaza.

Poor choice of words. Intentional or not?

Given the emotive quality to the word 'pound', it is reasonable to assume intent.

5. The ABC have resumed their optimistism and fixation on the truce. This can only lead to severe mood swings. Again.

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