Overwhelming # of Jews on the beat is evidence of ‘longterm structural bias’

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Yesterday on this site, Bruce Wolman, a Jew, did a great post where he pointed out that nearly everyone on Obama’s Israel-Palestine negotiation team is Jewish.

I know: that’s uncomfortable. But is it relevant? Yes.

Here is Jonathan Cook skilfully navigating the same territory around the fact that all the Times reporters in Jerusalem are Jewish (and the Washington Post just named a Jewish woman to its bureau). By the way, none of this can be fully understood till you throw in an analysis of Jewish wealth/Establishment-success in American society. Sorry, but it’s part of the picture. Cook:. 

[Times] super-stringers like [Taghreed El-] Khodary have limited influence over the news process in which they take part. To have reached the status of super-stringer, they must have shown that they understand very precisely what is expected of them, what language is used (eg. “fence” or “wall”; “illegal settlement” or “disputed neighbourhood”), what stories are covered and which angles are preferred. In most cases, they will be told what story the editors want from them rather than initiate the story. Their job is often to retell a report from the wire agency, using their own contacts and knowledge to give “added value”. In the main, this is quite unlike Bronner’s role: usually he will advise his editors which topics are important and select his own angles. The difference of status between the “star reporter” and the “super-stringer” is similar to that between a tenured professor and a supply teacher.

A further point worth noting is that Abunimah’s list of recent Jewish / Israeli reporters covering the conflict for the NYT is, as far I know, not exhaustive. My impression is that most of the NYT’s senior reporters over the past two decades have been Jewish or Israeli. Like Abunimah, I am uncomfortable judging a journalist’s record of reporting based on his or her ethnic identification. But these scruples should not blind us to the danger that the apparent long-term structural bias in the NYT’s selection processes may have contributed significantly to distorting Western understanding of what is going on in the conflict. The consistent favouring of Jewish reporters for the Israeli-Palestinian beat needs explaining by the editors of the NYT. This is especially true given my first point about the lack of Palestinian, or Arab, reporters who have any real input into the newsgathering processes of the Western media.

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