A media-watchdog organization has named its “award winners” for the most dishonest reporting in 2003, with the Reuters news agency taking top “honors” for its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Begun in 2000, Honest Reporting was “founded to scrutinize the media for examples of anti-Israel bias, and then mobilize subscribers to respond directly to the news agency concerned,” according to the organization’s website. The group says it has 60,000 subscribers and publishes sites in English, Italian, Spanish and Russian.

Said the organization in introducing its awards: “With the year drawing to a close, Honest Reporting regretfully presents the third annual Dishonest Reporting ‘Award,’ our yearly recognition of the most skewed and biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thanks for your nominations and votes! We begin with the ignoble award ‘winner,’ followed by recipients of Dishonorable Mention.”

Taking the Ignoble Award was Reuters, a UK-based, international news service. In singling out Reuters, Honest Reporting provides examples of what it sees as biased, dishonest coverage.

In reporting about Palestinian suicide bombings, the site points out, Reuters says the Israelis “killed” the terrorists:

Iraq has paid millions of dollars to families of Palestinians, including those of suicide bombers, killed by Israeli forces since the start of the uprising in September 2000.

Honest Reporting also says Reuters has encouraged the publishing of photos of only Palestinian victims of violence, rather than both Palestinians and Israelis.

The group points out on Nov. 3, Reuters reported Israel reinstated 15,000 Palestinian work permits, yet included this comment in a straight news report:

150,000 Palestinians [previously] made a living in Israel, so Sunday’s restoration of 15,000 Israeli work permits is still only a drop in the ocean.

Honest Reporting also hits Reuters for its continued refusal to use the word “terrorist” in its news reporting, along with other uses of what it considers biased terminology.

“Reuters refuses to use the term ‘terrorist’ because (as global news editor Steven Jukes states) ‘one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter,'” the group says. “But by continually using the term ‘uprising for statehood’ to describe the terrorist wave, Reuters chooses to present them as freedom fighters. So much for journalistic neutrality.”

Reporting on an analysis of Reuters headlines, Honest Reporting points out another distinction in the agency’s presentation.

“In violent acts by Israelis, ‘Israel’ was named in 100 percent of the headlines,” the group explains, “and the verb was in the active voice in 100 percent of the headlines, i.e., ‘Israeli Troops Shoot Dead Palestinian in W. Bank.’

“But in violent acts by Palestinians, the Palestinian perpetrator was named in just 33 percent of the headlines, and the verb was generally in the passive voice, i.e., ‘Bus Blows Up in Central Jerusalem.’

“That is, in the world of Reuters headlines, when Israel acts, Israel is always perpetrating an active assault and the Palestinian victim is consistently identified. But when Palestinian terrorists act, the event just ‘happens’ and Israeli victims are left faceless.”

Honest Reporting also pegged the following news agencies for “dishonorable mention”: The Associated Press, BBC, Christian Science Monitor, the Guardian and the Independent – both out of London – the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Washington Post.

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