Thursday, May 04, 2006

Accouncing the results of many, many hours of hard work...

Just last week, the project that I've been involved in for almost 4 months drew to a close and If Americans Knew released Deadly Distortion an examination of Associated Press coverage of Israel and Palestine.

But let me give you an insider’s view of the study. This study began when I downloaded every AP article distributed to American audiences in 2004 with the words Israel, Palestine, Israeli, or Palestinian. From these hundreds of headlines, I painstakingly tallied the number of Israeli and Palestinian deaths that the AP reported in headlines and first paragraphs each day. Then, I compared the number of deaths reported by the AP to the actual number, as reported by Israeli human rights organization B't Selem.

Yes, the process of complying this report was as tedious, and grizzly, as it sounds. But the results were say the least.

In 2004, there were 141 reports in AP headlines or first paragraphs of Israeli deaths. During this time, there had actually been 108 Israelis killed (the discrepancy is due to the fact that a number of Israeli deaths were reported multiple times). 543 Palestinian deaths were reported in headlines or first paragraphs, but 821 Palestinians had actually been killed. In other words, 131% of Israeli deaths and 66% of Palestinian deaths were reported in AP headlines or first paragraphs.

The discrepancy between the number actual deaths and the AP's reporting increases with it comes to Israeli and Palestinian children. 9 Israeli children’s deaths were reported in the headlines or first paragraphs of AP articles on the Israel/Palestine conflict in 2004, when 8 had actually occurred. During the same period only 27 out of 179 Palestinian children’s deaths were reported.

Our report analyzes this discrepancy in greater detail and looks briefly into the AP's coverage of other aspects of this conflict, including Palestinian prisoners, Israeli refuseniks, and nonviolent protest. Read it for yourself.

What are the implications of the dramatic differences in the way the AP covers Israeli and Palestinian victims of this conflict? I trust that you, dear reader, can grasp them easily enough: American's aren't getting the whole truth.

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