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Photographic negatives

"Photographic negatives" Continued...

Issue: "Muddy Gras," March 4, 2006

Also, execution-style killings of mothers with their children did not receive much coverage because many press people adopted the PLO line on settlers, i.e., that they should be considered, as I heard a PLO spokeswoman put it, "legitimate combatants."

WORLD: You write that the citizen-soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force would be terrific subjects for human-interest stories, but U.S. reporters have shown little interest. Why?

GUTMANN: The foreign press people seemed deathly afraid of seeming to help the Israeli government with flattering or favorable coverage. Appearing to be a friend of Israel could get you in trouble with officials of the Palestinian Authority, with your colleagues, even with some of your editors. There was also the widely held belief that Israel didn't deserve favorable coverage, and that the Palestinians-stereotyped as uniformly poor, oppressed, and "developing world"-shouldn't be saddled with critical coverage on top of all their other problems.

WORLD: Surely you're not going to tell us that the infamous Jenin massacre wasn't one . . .

GUTMANN: Jenin was not a massacre in any way, shape, or form. It was an armed conflict, a battle, between two determined forces-Israeli Defense Force soldiers vs. terror militia members and fedayeen (sympathizers). The reason it was easy to portray it as a massacre is that once again, as in the Iraq conflict, as in Fallujah, et al., the terror militia stationed themselves in a densely populated town and in effect drew the IDF in, made them fight a kind of urban warfare among houses and on city streets. The IDF was very careful to warn the civilians of the impending attack and let them get out-and most did-but some civilians were left behind. Overall, UN investigators determined in the end that about 45 Palestinians died, mostly all men in the 18- to 45-year-old age range.

WORLD: You write that the advent of blogging has led to an improvement in Western press reporting in Israel. Why is that, and are you optimistic that coverage will improve?

GUTMANN: Yes, I absolutely love the blogosphere and websites like yours. This is a very hopeful time for journalism. The major media had become a standard monopoly-arrogant, unaccountable, and regimented in their thinking. Most members of the mainstream media-the MSM-simply can't see this because "fish can't see the water they swim in." But did you ever try to get a correction into a newspaper? It's like fighting the proverbial city hall. But the internet introduced competition and, well, we know the effect competition tends to have. The MSM are now running very scared as they see ratings decline and circulations slip and they're beginning-just beginning-to consider that maybe they lost touch with their base.

Coverage of Israel has improved somewhat because of events but mainly because of blogs and websites that made it their business to deconstruct MSM coverage, make people see the deficiencies in what they were seeing, and then organize action-from boycotts, to letter writing campaigns, to blitzes of calls and faxes which paralyzed MSM switchboards. So, yes, for the time being Mideast coverage in the U.S. and even Britain is better. And the blogosphere helped make it happen.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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