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ARTICLE: US newspapers’ coverage of alleged human shields “highly flawed”

Gaza City Night Sky during Hostilities by United Nations Photo, licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The way US newspapers covered the allegations made of Hamas using human shields was “highly flawed”, Shane M. Graber, of University of Texas at Austin, writes. The author analysed 66 news stories, columns, and opinion pieces relating to the 50-Days War between Hamas and Israel in 2014.

Graber compared each text against the backdrop of J├╝rgen Habermas‘s concept of an “ideal speech situation”. In practice, the author asked the following four questions about each text:

  • Is the statement complete, verified, and attributed?
  • Is the text intending to elicit an emotional response?
  • Do all concerned sides have an opportunity to be heard? Which side or viewpoint is excluded?
  • Is the communication complete and without omissions important to its meaning?

All 66 analysed texts were flawed in some way, Graber found. Particularly, the coverage was skewed in favour of Israeli claims, according to which Hamas was using human shields – these allegations were widely repeated with little to no critical inquiry. Conversely, Palestinian and neutral third party views were much less present.

The article “War of perception” was published by the journal Critical Studies in Media Communication. It is available online from the publisher’s website (abstract free).

Picture: Gaza City Night Sky during Hostilities by United Nations Photo, licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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