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Media Analyses





WASHINGTON POST-WATCH: Making Big News Small


The New York Times thought it deserved a story by one of the newspaper’s own correspondents.

The Baltimore Sun played it as a 21-inch Associated Press report.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch used a big, front-page color photograph to tease to the story on an inside page.

And the Washington Post? The Post cut the AP dispatch to three sentences and buried it at the bottom of the “Word in Brief” round-up on page A-14.

The January 6 story was Israeli leader Ariel Sharon’s address the previous day to the 3,000-member central committee of his Likud Party.

New York Times reporter Greg Myre led his dispatch (“Sharon Jeered as He Talks of Giving Up Settlements”) this way:

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was showered with catcalls on Monday from his own right-wing party during a speech in which he said he would take down some Jewish settlements and permit the formation of a Palestinian state if the two sides reached a peace agreement.

The Baltimore Sun headlined the AP report “Some settlements to go, Sharon informs Likud; Israeli prime minister booed by party leaders.” The wire service lead read:

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told jeering leaders of his Likud Party yesterday that Israel will have to dismantle Jewish settlements as part of any peace deal, and he was prepared to act despite their opposition.

One criticism of Washington Post coverage of Arab-Israeli news is that it too often seems skewed by the belief that news is primarily what Israelis do to Palestinian Arabs. Reports about what Palestinians do to Israelis, let alone other newsworthy developments within Israel, among Palestinian Arabs, and within or between Arab countries gets downplayed or ignored. Post treatment of Sharon’s speech supports such criticism.

At least the address was not completely ignored. A day earlier, the Washington Times headlined a front-page story, “Modest recovery seen for Israeli economy”. Times correspondent Joshua Mitnick reported that “Israel’s economy is recovering modestly after three years of doldrums brought on by the Palestinian uprising and should show solid growth this year, according to economists and business leaders.” The Post didn’t cover it.


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