Thursday, January 3, 2013

A question your parent would ask...

But is it news?      Frequently, I write about America’s left/right divide. With almost alarming predictability, I can anticipate readers’ reactions. About the same piece, one side condemns me while the other praises my perception. With good reason, as long as both responses are civil and well researched, I appreciate both. You may wonder why.

The answer is that I seek truth. Always have and always will. My aim has never been to manipulate although some insist I’m doing just that because of stories I choose to write about (or the ones that seem to choose me).

Some dispute my sources and the clarity of their intent. Am I careful enough to decipher the line between PR and honest reporting? Do I announce my agenda as it influences what I write? Over time, I’ve tried to become more and more transparent about that.

Of course, that makes me suspicious about reporters like Isabel Kershner of the New York Times [Isabel Kershner - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Isabel Kershner is a journalist and author who began reporting from Jerusalem for The New York Times in 2007. Previously, Kershner was Senior Editor, Middle East, The
Isabel Kershner :: News Transparency  Articles about the work of Isabel Kershner. New York Times Sees 'Sad Irony' in Terrorists Killing Terrorist Sympathizer -] and her frequent collaborator, Ethan Bronner [NYTimes Ethan Bronner Files One More Sympathy Card for the ...
Departing New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner filed Thursday's off-lead front-page story from the West Bank town of Ramallah, passing on yet another ...] and his replacement, Jodi Rudoren [Ethan Bronner | The Jewish Week
She has yet to write a word from Israel, but already the appointment of Jodi Rudoren to succeed Ethan Bronner as the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, is ...

How that trio fails to report the U.N. bias against Israel baffles me as much as their determination to promote a Palestinian agenda. “Tell it all!” I want to demand, the entire story. “Provide a reliable perspective!”

In a nutshell, that’s the crux. Encourage readers to investigate and corroborate stories and their sources rather than doing that for them. Surround truth; it’s known to be slippery and murky and malleable. Getting to it journalistically is essential, yet absolutely challenging when it’s time to divest truth from a narrative that attempts to shape it.

Doing that can be messy business. That’s why I attended Duke University’s Palestinian Solidarity Movement’s Conference as a participant, inside, rather than as a protester outside. Heralded as a gathering that would promote dialogue, the conference generated little of that. Still, inside, I listened, and, as a participant, gathered the material the PSM handed out to their supporters and to me, a non card-carrying reporter of sorts.

What I found, in the notebook of workshops offered on Saturday, was one that taught about how to take over any university newspaper for the purpose of converting it into a source of propaganda. The workshop served a purpose; it taught how to promote a biased view. Protesters outside were neither informed about the workshops nor invited to attend.

( Please see:
Palestine Solidarity Movement Conference Speakers Attack ...Palestine Solidarity Movement Conference Speakers Attack Israel ... a sophomore at Duke University's Trinity College, wrote a column for The Chronicel, ... -
Duke News & Communications | Palestine Solidarity Movement ...PSM Home Conference Q&A –Conference organizers –Conference details –Duke and the conference –Security –Past PSM conferences : The Palestine Solidarity ... -
Duke News & Communications | Duke Focus On Middle East Conflict
Site Home Resources –Duke's Palestine Solidarity Movement site offers information about the conference and its organizers...

Noisemakers on both sides put on a show. Truth was there to be found and garbed; Israel was demonized, on the inside, by unchallenged speakers. Dialogue didn’t stand a chance.

That was more than eight years ago, in October, 2004. Since then, the left/right divide has become a chasm. Reportorial truth is no less elusive. Pointing to it seems to be the best that much of our media can or is willing to do. One story in particular confirms, for me, that each of us must do the grunt work of getting at truth’s core.

Here’s that story from the January 3, 2013 New York Times:

Al Gore's low-rated cable channel will provide the pan-Arab news giant with something it has sought for years: a pathway into American living rooms.


                                                B. Koplen 1/3/13

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