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A Shocking Loss of Media Nerve: Locked Out of Gaza

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A Blog for Media Justice, By Paul D. Boin, is jointly sponsored by Rabble.ca and the Media Justice Project.

Regardless of where you stand on the current Mideast crisis between Israel and Gaza, what I find most shocking about the mainstream media coverage is the lack of media outrage over the blocking of journalists from entering Gaza by the Israeli government.

Since the crisis broke out on December 27th, I have been collecting and reading all the editorials published by the major mainstream North American newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Globe and Mail, National Post, and Toronto Star). In these numerous media outlet opinion pieces that carefully detail their official stances on the current crisis, only the New York Times (January 6th editorial, yet still not enough) mentioned a word about the fact that their organizations were being prevented from doing their primary job – being a witness and recorder of world events for the publics they are supposed to be serving.

When one recalls how numerous and ferocious these same media outlets have issued their ‘brave’ editorial positions against being blocked from the courtrooms of a sexy murder case, the hypocrisy is unbearable. During these far less important events, the editorials vehemently blather forth about “The public’s right to know!” and how “A free press is the first and most important measure of a democratic society.” 2 weeks after being blocked from covering the most important story in the world at this moment, and five of these six (and all three Canadian) mainstream media popinjays still have not issued a word in protest? Why are there not dozens/hundreds of lead editorials protesting this blatant crime against media freedom?

What makes this even worse is that these very same media organizations have their own brave journalists at the fence of the scene of this critical story just chomping at the bit to get in and do their jobs . The corporate masters and official editorial writers of the major mainstream media organizations are not only letting down the people of the world, and the civilians (on both sides) being killed and maimed, they are letting down their own journalists.  

“All the news that’s fit to print.” “Canada’s National Newspaper” (not to mention the slogans of their electronic media counterparts: “The most trusted name in news,” and “Trusted, connected, and Canadian”). Hardly!

“We have defaulted on our profession,” said Helen Thomas upon reflecting on how her mainstream media journalist colleagues covered the lead-up to the Iraq war. This time, the journalists are there waiting to get in. It is the corporate and editorial decision-makers that have defaulted on their profession. These same decision-makers wonder why their news organizations are losing readers (and viewers). If you don’t serve the public, and allow and fight for your journalists to serve them, then the public will not serve you.

The disgraceful and cowardly game is up mainstream media. Your hypocrisy has now been laid bare for all the world to see. Will you mainstream media decision-makers summon up enough nerve to honor your profession and your journalists, and to truly serve the public? Will you finally take a real stand for media freedom and the public’s right to know? The world, the victims of this crisis, and your future awaits your decision.

Dr. Paul Boin ([email protected]) is an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Windsor, founder of the Media Justice Project and a member of the Campaign for Democratic Media. This Blog For Media Justice is co-sponsored by Rabble.ca.

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