Tips for Following News about Israel and Palestine

This is sound advice, notwithstanding the author’s own clear political preferences. FWIW, when I teach my media students about “information biases,” we cover many of these principles, which have nothing to do with “objectivity” but with avoiding obvious factual errors and falling into standard fallacies en route to formulating political and moral judgments. They are conventional wisdom among scholars of journalism. In fact, someone like Noam Chomsky would find them banal, and has made nearly identical observations regarding US coverage of Latin America and Southeast Asia. When we examine coverage of police brutality, political corruption, corporate malfeasance, economic inequality, and the like, we rightly insist on these and related norms and criticize coverage that violates them for creating a distorted picture of social reality.

Virtually the only context in which even media-savvy academics completely abandon these commonsensical rules of thumb is reporting on “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” (which enframes nearly everything that happens in the region, flattening everyone’s various motives to a single dimension). Something similar used to bedevil discussions of the USSR and its satellite states. Refined critical theories of mass communication were devised on the basis of that experience, only to be unceremoniously shunted aside in favor of facile slogans.