Monday, 13 May, 2024

Palestinian journalist’s killing shines light on media slant

Critics say several Western media outlets once again failed to cover an incident in Palestine – this time the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh – without displaying pro-Israel bias and using problematic framing in storytelling.

Doha-based Al Jazeera television channel says Israeli forces deliberately and “in cold blood” shot the veteran reporter in the head. (AP)

Media workers and analysts have blasted the slanted coverage by some Western news outlets of the killing of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who according to her channel and eyewitnesses was shot dead in "cold blood" by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank.

"This is reprehensible journalism," said Sana Saeed, host of the "Backspace" series on AJ plus, posting headlines of some of the major news outlets and calling it a "pattern of obfuscation."

The Qatar-based TV Al Jazeera on Wednesday charged that Israeli forces deliberately and "in cold blood" shot dead Abu Akleh, 51, in the head during the unrest in the Jenin refugee camp.

Ali Al Samoudi, an eyewitness and colleague of slain correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, said in his video testimony that Israeli troops fired three bullets at journalists, with the first one missing them, the second wounding Samoudi in the shoulder and the third hitting Abu Akleh in the head.

Israel says it is not certain how she was killed. But Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett suggested that "armed Palestinians" were "likely" responsible. Israel's military chief later said it was unclear who fired the fatal shot, and added that a probe was under way.

Majid Awais, a witness, told the AFP news agency that Abu Akleh "turned in panic" when she saw her colleague Samudi was shot. Moments later she too was shot.

AFP said its photographer reported that Israeli forces were firing in the area and that he then saw Abu Akleh's body lying on the ground, with no Palestinian gunmen visible at the time.

Media omitting 'who did the killing'

"Instead of trusting the group of Palestinian journalists who witnessed the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, these news outlets resorted to framing the news to deliberately omit who did the killing," said Linah Alsaafin, an online producer with Al Jazeera English, in her post on Twitter that showed headlines from BBC, New York Times, The Guardian and Associated Press.

"Distrusting and dismissing Palestinian voices has always been a staple of western media coverage, while simultaneously they parrot Israeli army statements like it's the gospel truth," she said.

Others said the eyewitness testimony in the incident was ignored to follow the usual Wester media narrative over the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"If a journalist is shot & killed in front of multiple journalists who all say there were no armed Palestinians present, just Israeli forces who fired at them, than that is enough. Enough for journalists & headline writers to not mention 'clashes' (sic)," VICE News journalist Hind Hassan tweeted.

"Rest in Power Shireen Abu Akleh."

'Shameful' journalism

"The framing by Western media of Israel's aggression in Palestine as a conflict of equal sides is completely false. It is also really poor journalism," Nina Montagu-Smith, editor of Al Jazeera Journalism Review, wrote in an article, calling Western media's coverage of the killing of Abu Akleh "shameful."

The Associated Press reported the killing of Abu Akleh as the journalist having been "killed by gunfire", she said, adding "as if she had been accidentally caught in the crossfire rather than killed during a brutal crackdown on Palestinians by Israeli forces."

"It's time for all journalists – particularly those in the West – to start reporting these events truthfully and without bias. Until they do, these tragic deaths will continue to mount up.," Montagu-Smith said.

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