Haaretz: Journalistic ethics and integrity
Charges of killing Palestinian civilians - a mere hearsay
To the Letters Editor
March 28 2009
Journalistic ethics and integrity
The headline to Anshel Pfeffer's article: How IDF testimonies led to the 'Haaretz blood libel' (Haaretz March 27) is artfully deceptive. The rambling discussions at the Oranim Academic College as reported in Haaretz, cannot under any circumstances be described as "testimonies" with the implication that they were declarations under oath. To the contrary, no objective reader can disagree with Melanie Phillips' description of the selected extracts of the soldiers' discussions as anything but innuendo, rumor and hearsay, demonstrably wrenched out of context. Pheffer's attack on Phillips demonstrates a dismal lack of understanding of what she wrote in her March 22 blog "The Ha'aretz blood libel".
The last sentence in Pfeffer's article succinctly sums up Haaretz's confused concept of ethical journalism. He wrote "if we were to ask ourselves, before publishing every report, how it will be used by Israel's ill-wishers, that would surely be the ultimate capitulation to anti-Semitism". Haaretz may well be unconcerned about, and even relish, the effect of its articles on Israel's enemies, but it should be concerned about infringing good old-fashioned journalistic guidelines like those of the US Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) that include "Seek truth and report it", "Minimize harm", and "diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing."
In particular the SPJ urges journalists to question the motives of sources and to distinguish between advocacy by biased sources such as Danny Zamir and factual news.
- Maurice Ostroff