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February 04, 2009

Demonization Before Verification at Time Magazine?

"In the end," write journalists Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, "the discipline of verification is what separates journalism from entertainment, propaganda, fiction, or art."

They make the assertion in their book The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect.

But apparently, not all newspeople do know of this difference between journalism and other disciplines.

A crowd of reporters, most prominent among them Time Magazine's Tim McGirk, has in recent weeks reported on the death of two Palestinian sisters during the Gaza fighting. The common theme of the news stories is that Israeli troops reportedly shot the Palestinians as they were surrendering.

Had the journalists paid enough attention to their obligation to verify, though, they would have found that not everything the family has claimed is true. In fact, it can't all be true — different journalists asking the same questions have been given different answers. And different answers to the same question is certainly cause to doubt what is being said.

Did the excitement about an opportunity demonize Israel trump the journalistic obligation to verify?

Read all about it here, while recalling the words of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Walter Lippmann in 1920: "There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the information by which to detect lies."

Posted by GI at February 4, 2009 06:11 PM


Thank you for posting this. I subscribe to Time magazine, and, after reading that article, noticed immediately that the ENTIRE story was based solely off of the "eyewitness" reports of Palestinians. Not a single journalist or non-Palestinian witness had verified it. I've written a letter to the editor of Time; hopefully it (or a similar letter) is published in the next issue...

Posted by: Mimzy at February 4, 2009 08:02 PM

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