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Thursday, March 27, 2008

UK group tackles anti-Israel media bias

UK group tackles anti-Israel media bias

A new organization seeking to promote accurate and responsible media coverage of Israel in the UK is to be launched in London on Friday.

Footage from the controversial Muhammed al-Dura video, aired by France 2, which "showed" a Palestinian boy "wounded" by the IDF.
Photo: AP [file]

By holding journalists accountable to the principles created by the industry, Just Journalism says it is aiming to promote responsible journalism and fairness in reporting on Israel.

Founded by a group of young professionals with backgrounds in the media, law, public relations and academia who are concerned with the influence of the media and their lack of accountability, the new organization will analyze and monitor press and broadcast coverage of Israel to ensure it adheres to core journalistic principles.

Just Journalism is an independent organization funded by private individuals and led by Egyptian-born journalist and Middle East commentator Adel Darwish.

"We are aware of the huge impact the media have on public opinion and policy making, as well as the consequences of some of the media reporting of Israel," Darwish told The Jerusalem Post. "Just Journalism aims to increase awareness of the fundamental journalistic principles underlying the media's responsibility to society."

Darwish brings over 40 years of reporting experience on the region to the group. He was a senior reporter at the Independent for over 10 years and has worked on an array of other newspapers including The Daily Telegraph and The Times. The author of four books, he is a frequent commentator on BBC and Sky News, as well as major Arabic-language, American and Canadian television networks.

"Much of the current coverage of Israel makes it harder for people to develop an educated and informed opinion of Israel and the Middle East," Darwish said.

Just Journalism will rigorously and systematically monitor and analyze UK press and broadcast coverage of Israel on a daily basis. Using publicly available regulatory frameworks that include BBC editorial guidelines, OFCOM [the independent regulator authority for the UK communications industries] guidelines and the Press Complaints Commission code of practice, it will seek to highlight infringements of principles such as factual accuracy, impartiality, use of sources, balance and language.

"We believe that core journalistic principles are regularly being compromised and reporting is often far from impartial, accurate or balanced," Darwish said. "Adhering to core standards of journalistic integrity is critical if we are to maintain a balanced and informed view of the conflict and what is going on in the world."

Just Journalism will also publish quantitative analysis of lengthy periods of coverage and engage in a series of high profile activities designed to highlight the importance of journalistic integrity.

Darwish said the new organization will in no way be a lobby group to push Israel's political agenda.

"We have no issues with critical analysis of Israel's policies but want to ensure that journalistic principles are upheld when reporting this complex area. Thus all we ask is that journalists stay true to their own principles," he said.

The organization will publish its findings on its Web site and will be producing its first in-depth report in May.

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