Volume , Number 0
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There are no articles.Culture
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When War Crimes Are Impossible
Bruce E. Levine
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
Eleanor J. Bader
There are no articles.
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Associated Press Omissions
he Associated Press (AP), according to its
website, is the world’s oldest and largest news organization.
It is the behemoth of news reporting, providing what its editors
determine is the news to a billion people each day. Through its
feeds to thousands of newspapers, radio, and television stations,
AP is a major determinant in what Americans read, hear, and see—and
what they don’t.
What they don’t is profoundly important. I investigated one such omission when I was in the Palestinian Territories last year working on a documentary.
On October 17, 2004 Israeli military forces invaded Balata, a dense, poverty-stricken community deep in Palestine’s West Bank (Israel frequently invades this area and others). According to witnesses, the vehicles stayed for about 20 minutes as the military asserted its power over the Palestinian population. Witnesses state that there was no Palestinian resistance—no “clash,” no “crossfire,” no stone throwing. At one point, after most of the vehicles had driven away, an Israeli soldier stuck his gun out of his armored vehicle, aimed at a young boy nearby, and pulled the trigger.
We went to the hospital and interviewed the boy, Ahmad, his doctors, family, and others. He said he was afraid of Israeli soldiers and showed us where he had been shot previously. There was a second boy in the hospital, this one with a shattered femur. A third boy was in critical condition with a bullet hole in his lung. A fourth, not a patient, was visiting a friend. He showed us a scarred lip and missing teeth from when Israeli soldiers had shot him in the mouth.
We discovered that an AP cameraperson had filmed the entire incident. He had then followed what apparently is the usual routine—he sent his video to the AP control bureau in Israel. Did AP place the video in safe-keeping, available for an investigation of this crime? According to the camera- person, the AP erased it.
We traveled to AP’s control bureau. With our own camera out and running, we asked bureau chief Steve Gutkin about this incident. Did the bureau have the video and had they indeed erased it. If so, why? Gutkin, visibly flustered, told us that AP did not allow its journalists to give interviews. He told us that all questions must go to Corporate Communications in New York. He explained that they were on deadline and couldn’t talk. I said I understood deadline pressures and sat down to wait until they were done. When Gutkin called Israeli police to arrest us, we left.
Later, I phoned Corporate Communications and reached Jack Stokes, AP’s public relations spokesperson and director of media relations. I had conversed with Stokes before. Over the past several years I had noticed disturbing flaws in AP’s coverage of Israel- Palestine—newsworthy stories not being covered, reports sent to international newspapers, but not to U.S. ones, stories omitting or misreporting significant facts, critical sentences being removed from updated reports. I would phone AP with the appropriate correction or news alert. One time this resulted in a flawed news story being slightly corrected in updates. In a few cases stories were covered that had been neglected. In many cases, however, I was told that I needed to speak to Corporate Communications.
I would phone Corporate Communications, leave a message, and wait for a response. Most often, none came. Several times, however, I was able to have long conversations with Stokes. None of these conversations ever ended with AP taking any action. Some typical responses were:
- The omitted story was “not newsworthy”
- The story deemed by AP editors to be newsworthy to the rest of the world—e.g. Israel’s brutal imprisonment of over 300 Palestinian youths—was not newsworthy in the U.S.
- Burying a report of Israeli forces shooting a four-year-old Palestinian girl in the mouth was justified
- Misreporting an incident in which an Israeli officer riddled a 13-year-old girl at close range with bullets was unimportant
So when I phoned Corporate Communication about the erased footage, I no longer expected that AP would take any corrective action, but I did expect to receive some information. I gave Stokes the details about this incident and asked him the same questions I had asked Gutkin. He said he would look into this and get back to me.
After several days he had not gotten back to me, so I phoned him. He said that he had looked into this incident and that AP had determined that this was “an internal matter” and that they would give no response. While I should have known better, I was again astounded. AP was blatantly violating fundamental journalistic norms of ethical behavior and clearly felt it had the power to get away with it. According to the ASJ’s Code of Ethics: “Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other. Journalists should:
- Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct
- Encourage the public to voice grievances against the media
- Admit mistakes and correct them promptly
- Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media
- Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others”
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.