Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The passion

The Jewish Week analyzes the NYT's ombudsman's defense of his paper's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which appeared over Pessach. If you didn't catch it last week, read it here.
For me, the most interesting part of the NYT's piece -- other than the fact that they bothered devoting half a page to the issue of balance and fairness long after most people have tired of hearing about it -- was the following paragraph:
[The Times] eschews passion. If your cause needs good publicity - as both the Palestinians and the Israelis definitely do - conventional news story tropes can only be infuriating: bland recitations of presumed facts followed by challenges to those facts, assertions by spokesmen instantly countered by opposing spokesmen. The paper's seeming reluctance, for instance, to report evidence of incitement to racial or religious hatred derives in part, I believe, from a subconscious effort to stick to the noninflammatory middle and to keep things civil, even when civility leaked out of the conflict long ago.
Incitement to racial and religious hatred is an essential part of the story; you may even argue that it is the key, or one of the keys, to the whole story, and it's quite a statement for a paper to admit that they will not report on this because they find it too distasteful. It seems that Okrent and by extension the NYT is confusing dispassionate reporting, to which I have no objection, with refusing to report on passion -- which is something completely different.

No comments: