Study Reveals TV News Vastly Underreports Palestinian Children’s Deaths

Cover of Off the Charts.

WASHINGTON, May 10 /U.S. Newswire/ — On Capitol Hill yesterday, a two-year study of network news coverage of Israel/Palestine revealed extensive underreporting of Palestinian deaths, particularly of children’s deaths.

The study, conducted by media watchdog organization If Americans Knew, shows that in 2004 eight Israeli children and 179 Palestinian children were killed.

In reporting on this situation, the organization found that the networks reported on Israeli children’s deaths at rates up to 13 times greater than Palestinian children’s deaths. In reality, 22 times more Palestinian children were being killed than Israeli children.

“Since American taxpayers give Israel over $10 million per day, it is essential that we be accurately informed on this issue,” says executive director Alison Weir, who discussed the study in a briefing in the Rayburn House Office Building yesterday “Unfortunately, our study shows that in many cases we’re being misinformed, rather than informed.”

The study, which examined ABC, CBS, and NBC news coverage of the first year of the current Palestinian uprising and of 2004, found “pervasive patterns of distortion” in which Israeli deaths were emphasized and Palestinian deaths largely unreported.

(Graphic: If Americans Knew)

During the first year of the uprising, when four times more Palestinians were being killed than Israelis, the study found that two out of three networks reported on more Israeli deaths than Palestinian deaths. All three networks reported Israeli deaths at rates three to four times greater than Palestinian deaths.

In contrast, the study found that Israeli deaths were often reported in multiple news stories, creating the impression that far larger numbers of Israelis were being killed than was actually the case — sometimes by a factor of two.

The study found that in every category Israeli deaths were reported in much higher rates than Palestinian deaths. In addition, the report describes a “chronological reversal” in coverage of the current Palestinian uprising, in which viewers were led to believe that Israelis had died first, whereas in reality, 82 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces before the first Israeli child - and months before any suicide bombings.

This report and a similar statistical study of New York Times coverage can be read in full online at If Americans Knew, Study Reveals TV News Vastly Underreports Palestinian Children’s Deaths.

The mission of If Americans Knew is to inform and educate the American public on issues of major significance that are unreported, underreported, or misreported in the American media.