THE OVER-REPORTING OF ISRAEL
Dear HonestReporting Subscriber,
When was the last time your daily paper didn't include an item on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
With over 900 articles on this conflict emerging on an average day from English-language media outlets, Israel ?\ a tiny nation the size of the state of New Jersey ?\ receives approximately 75 times more coverage than other areas of equal population. In comparison to other nations involved in armed conflict (where world media attention increases), Israel receives over 10 times more coverage by population.
As a Jerusalem correspondent from a major American paper recently told HonestReporting, 'My editor wants a story from me every day ?\ even on very slow news days ?\ and that's unique in our international coverage.'
Two fascinating new 'real-time' web pages illustrate this phenomenon of the over-reporting of Israel:
1) NewsMap represents in graphic format the content of the GoogleNews aggregator. The more stories GoogleNews is currently providing on a given topic, the larger that headline appears on NewsMap's page.
Israel nearly always occupies the largest block in the red 'World News' section of NewsMap. A mere statement from an Israeli leader (i.e. 'Sharon Vows to Continue Strikes', 4/21) is enough to overwhelm coverage of actual human tragedies elsewhere in the world.
2) Harvard's Ethan Zuckerman takes another approach ?\ his Global Attention Profiles maps out what nations of the world the major news agencies currently deem significant. Though Israel is certainly a 'red zone' (very high interest), it's telling that one can't even see the red of Israel on Zuckerman's color-coded world map, since Israel is so small!
So click through to the tables format, where you find that on the AP wire, Israel and the West Bank's coverage-to-population ratio far outweigh anywhere else in the world (with the occasional exception of Iraq).
What does this mean for Israel? The over-reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an important element of anti-Israel bias for two reasons:
?Å“ DISTORTION OF GEOGRAPHIC REALITY ?\ The prominence granted to Israeli power though massive news coverage distorts the geographic reality: Israel is a tiny nation surrounded by Arab states that, at best, coldly tolerate Israel's existence. To the average news consumer, this key strategic reality is lost behind the barrage of Israel headlines that give one the impression Israel has a large physical presence in the Mideast.
In fact, one could jog from the West Bank to the Mediterranean Sea in little over an hour. Israeli leaders communicate this point to foreign diplomats by taking them on a helicopter ride from Tel Aviv, flying east toward the West Bank. After a few short minutes, they turn to guests and say: 'I'll let you know when we've crossed into the West Bank...We already did.' This, to disabuse foreign guests of the notion that Israel is much larger than their regular news providers suggest.
?Å“ EXCESSIVE SCRUTINY OF ISRAEL ?\ Israel's conscientious anti-terror effort is scrutinized by the world press in a manner no other nation is forced to confront.
For example, while tens of thousands have been massacred and gross human rights violations have struck African nations such as Congo and Sudan, the over-reporting of Israel focuses far more concern on alleged IDF insensitivity to Palestinians. As Harvard's Zuckerman finds himself asking, 'How many Congolese would need to be slaughtered to make the front page of the New York Times?'
Then there's the overriding matter: Since Israel is so disproportionately covered, any media bias against Israel of the sort documented by HonestReporting is amplified beyond compare.
Another question remains, outside the scope of this communique: Why is Israel so over-reported? Is it the convergence of three major world religions in Jerusalem? Is it the fact that Israel is a Jewish nation? Or is it something else entirely?
Please share your thoughts on these matters with other HonestReporting subscribers on our weblog: BackSpin.
Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.
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