Like what happened with the death of the Saudi Jamal Khashoggi three years ago, unusually, the death of Shireen Abu Akleh is also persisting in the American – and, consequently, Western – news.
Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist, while Abu Akleh was a Palestinian-American. In the same WPost call, when breaking the news on Wednesday, she was described simply as an “American journalist”.
Part of the persistence on the subject also stems from the immediate reaction of Al Jazeera, for which she worked on the Arabic broadcasts. It is a state news channel, from a government also close to Washington, from Qatar.
“In a flagrant homicide, Israeli occupation forces murdered in cold blood Al Jazeera Palestinian correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh,” he said in his statement.
In the United States, the leading role in the coverage of the death has been WPost, which heard two journalists who were with Abu Akleh and five other witnesses, overturning the Israeli government’s version.
He immediately announced a “high level of probability” that she had been killed by the Palestinians themselves. But later, as highlighted by WPost, “Instead, Israel investigates the possibility of a soldier having killed a journalist”.
On Israeli army radio, the military spokesman then described Abu Akleh as “filming and working for a means of communication between armed Palestinians. Armed with cameras, if I may say so.”
WPost even published “Stories of five dead journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” But the newspaper is not the rule or the reference of the coverage, paper of the New York Times, which was not along the same lines.
On Wednesday, the headline and headline on the NYT’s home page was “Shireen Abu Akleh, Pioneer Palestinian Journalist, Dies at 51,” without reporting that she had been murdered. The next day, it changed to “she is killed in the West Bank”, but followed up with dubious statements.
The picture only changed in the newspaper with the “police attack” on the crowd carrying the correspondent’s coffin, on Friday. But other American vehicles, such as CBS, reported the repression as an alleged “confrontation”, again between soldiers and Palestinians.
The questioning of the coverage of death in the US is widespread, reaching the Columbia Journalism Review, publication of the most traditional school of journalism in the country, at Columbia University.
Even Ben Smith, who has barely intervened in the debates since leaving the NYT’s media column, resurfaced to share the advice of another Palestinian-American journalist, Sara Yasin, who is on the board of the Los Angeles Times:
“Israel-Palestine is no more ‘complicated’ than any other international conflict, the same rules of journalism apply! do your work!”
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