It’s a myth that reporters always “just report” the news. Further, it is a myth that media bias is a new thing. If we are honest, we understand that folks have been manipulating data and facts and narrative since the beginning of time. Yellow journalism is old as the hills, and one only needs to read a newspaper from the Colonial period in America to know that many of today’s journalists are pussycats in comparison.
Of course, there are journalists and writers who do practice objective reporting; it’s just that they are in the minority. And of all the areas of biased reporting out there, perhaps none is as Wild West-ish as the Middle East. Israel is a favorite target.
I had a chance recently to visit with the director of HonestReporting, Joe Hyams. The British-born Hyams spent several years in Israel before recently moving to the States. In his time with HonestReporting – one of the top media watchdog groups out there – Hyams has gotten a firsthand reminder of how grim the situation can be for those who advocate for truth in reporting.
“We’ve been wedded to the idea that in journalism taking a side … means we’re not going to call good ‘good’ and bad ‘bad,’” Hyams said. “So long as the world will not say, ‘This is not acceptable,’ until the world is prepared to shift the spotlight to objectivity … we’re going to be stuck.”
Stuck as in skewed reporting, which always leads people away from making good, informed choices.
In the recent negotiations with Iran, for example, too many media outlets began to focus on the alleged “obstinance” of Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, who has chosen an unpopular path and confronted the world with the dangers of coddling a lethal Iran.
With regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict specifically, Hyams laments the power of what we can call dishonest reporting: “I’m basically pessimistic so long as someone on the other side doesn’t stand up and say we need to live together side by side.”
Into this often complex and difficult milieu, however, HonestReporting has stepped, in order to provide balanced resources for those who wish to be better informed. For example, on the popular HR feature “Backspin Blog,” a recent entry focused on a strange headline from Foreign Policy magazine.
Two lion cubs in a Hamas-run amusement park in Gaza sadly did not survive. From a collection of sources, it appears the park staff did not have sufficient experience raising such animals, yet a headline by Foreign Policy read: “Did an Israeli Airstrike Just Kill These Adorable Newborn Lion Cubs?”
HonestReporting has provided a backgrounder to show that Israel had nothing to do with the deaths of the lion cubs, and this kind of honest reporting from HR is just the tip of the resource iceberg available for those who care about the truth and who are interested in advocating for Israel.
Hyams is excited about the opportunities to set the record straight.
“Israel for the most part is an enriching and sophisticated place, and our work often is trying to wake up both Israelis and the Western world, including Christian Zionists, to recognize the truth about the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he said. “We know that Israel is being goaded into the next conflict.”
Besides the terrific resources HonestReporting provides, several initiatives are bearing fruit. One is the “Fight the Demonization of Israel” campaign.
Hyams explains the pattern that appears when Israel is castigated by media: “It starts with demonization, moves to isolation, then goal is eradication.”
This, of course, is essentially the PLO agenda, as hatched and advanced by Yasser Arafat and is now being carried out by his successors. HonestReporting is having none of it.
“Above all else, we are asking the media to honor their commitment to ethics,” says Hyams. “And the Internet has given us the ability to rally, the power to unite as one. No longer is it one person alone, but 1,000 together or more.”
The website – HonestReporting.com – is easy to navigate and, perhaps most importantly, relies heavily on images that can so dramatically point people to truth, especially the millennial generation (so targeted by the left and the Palestinian narrative).
The media critiques, slideshows, videos, reports on photo bias and many other resources make HonestReporting.com an indispensable location for the many Christian supporters of Israel that live in my philosophical community. For more than a decade, I’ve benefitted from their materials and have seen firsthand the impact of changing even one mind.
In an age of disinformation and clashing agendas, we are lucky to have an available resource like HonestReporting.com. Joe Hyams is steering a strong ship that you should consider jumping aboard. Learn to be an honest reporter in your own right.