3 July 2003
Dear Ms. Jacobsen,
I am writing to follow-up my letter of 26 June 2003 to ask what action was taken in light of the baseless association in the June 26th report by Associated Press writer Peter Enav, entitled “Israelis Exonerated in Activist’s Death”, that the International Solidarity Movement is somehow involved with terrorism.
AP’s website states that “The AP believes firmly in a fair and objective news report. The AP subscribes to the code of ethics written by the Associated Press Managing Editors Association.” [http://www.ap.org/pages/aptoday/aptoday_faq.html#9]
Parts of Enav’s article would appear to fall foul of several guidelines in the Managing Editors Association’s Code of Ethics [http://www.apme.com/about/code_ethics.shtml], particularly with regards to what the code has to say about accuracy, enjoining media organisations to, “guard against inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortion through emphasis, omission or technological manipulation.”
“Distortion through emphasis” is a fitting description of Enav’s sentence that follows the paragraph that notes (what he calls) Israel’s “increasingly tough attitude” towards ISM: “The International Solidarity Movement has acknowledged that two Britons visited its members before the Britons carried out an April 30 suicide bombing at a bar in Tel Aviv, killing three Israelis.”
The use of the word “acknowledged” and the circumstantial nature of what the organisation is actually acknowledging imparts far too much significance to the visit to ISM by the bombers than it deserves and — as the concluding sentence in the article — is as prominent a distortion as it could be without being found in a headline or opening paragraph.
The Accuracy subsection of the AP Managing Editors Association code ends with the requirement that media organisations “should acknowledge substantive errors and correct them promptly and prominently.” In this instance, AP must offer some explanation and take action to prevent a reoccurrence of this inflammatory example of editorialising.
This is far from a minor issue. AP cannot be insinuating that peace activists are involved with terrorism, particularly when Israel has recently killed three ISM activists, has been raiding ISM offices across the country, and continues to deport and imprison ISM members. Doing this helps to create a climate of tolerance for Israel’s measures against the ISM that is — frankly — dangerous and irresponsible.