Saturday, January 31, 2009

Analysis: Coverage of Gaza War by US Media Echoed Govt Support of Israel

cInter Press Service, January 31, 2009 - ....During both the first and second weeks of the attack, including a massive aerial attack and a full-scale ground invasion of the tiny, densely-populated Gaza Strip, the conflict was the top story on the nightly newscasts of the three major U.S. networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), where it got 55 minutes of total airtime.

But the first two weeks of fighting were "an aberration in terms of coverage by American broadcast networks", said Andrew Tyndall, of the Tyndall Report, which monitors the weekday nightly newscasts from the three major U.S. broadcast networks. "It's very rare for a foreign story to have that kind of status for two weeks."

U.S. foreign news coverage has been on the decline. In 2008 attention to international news was at its lowest since the Tyndall Report was first published in 1988....
Tyndall points out that while the number of sound bites of the conflict broadcast from the two sides was about equal, the use of quotes from official sources was not. For every quotation by a Palestinian official, the three networks quoted 10 Israelis.

"Interviews with Israeli spokesmen and ambassadors were not juxtaposed with the voices of Palestinian leaders," said Habib Battah, a freelance journalist writing for Al-Jazeera English.

In addition to disproportionate official representation, the grave disparity in casualties between the two sides was usually played down or not mentioned at all by newscasters. Nearly 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the conflict, which ended tentatively with separate ceasefires on Jan. 18.

"When the number of deaths did appear [in television news broadcasts] - sometimes as a graphic at the bottom of the screen - it was identified as the number of 'people killed' rather than being attributed specifically to Palestinians," said Battah....

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