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One-Sided News

By David Haldane

Nov. 23, 2023



I had just put the finishing touches on a three-minute video presentation for an annual gathering of would-be journalists at the University of Perpetual Help in Cavite when the hammer hit the nail.

Right on the head.

“Fewer and fewer people trust news media these days,” I’d said, “because so many journalists have become activists instead of reporters. They have lost focus on what their true job is.”

And almost immediately came the proof of the pudding; a Business Insider article reporting that dozens of “pro-Palestinian media workers” had gathered in Manhattan angered by a New York Times editorial opposing a Gazan ceasefire. And that even more had signed a statement describing Israel’s military response to the horrific incursion of terrorists as “an attempt to conduct genocide against the Palestinian people.”

All this on the heels of a separate declaration endorsed by 1,252 journalists from news organizations including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Guardian characterizing Israel’s “occupation” of Gaza as “illegal under international law” and accusing Western news coverage of enabling the “ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”

Activist journalists aren’t new, of course. Back in the early 1970s, I began my career at a Northern California weekly called the Berkeley BARB, a notorious player in what was then referred to as America’s leftist “underground press.” We made no bones about where we stood; against the Vietnam War, against imperialism, against capitalism, against then-US President Richard Nixon—against almost everything for which we believed America stood.

We had little use in those days for so-called “objective” reporting, balance, fairness, or giving space to both sides. That’s because we believed there was only one side—ours—and the mission was to keep spreading it until it encompassed the world.

A decade later, in another era, I graduated to the Los Angeles Times, which, back then anyway, held itself to a very different standard. A reporter’s personal views, the editors insisted, should be strictly kept out of coverage. Failure to do so, everyone knew, constituted grounds for firing. And so, we endeavored to practice what I now regard as the true art of journalism.

Recent years, alas, have witnessed a major backsliding in that regard spurred by the emergence of the far left as a dominant force in both education and media. “American view-from-nowhere ‘objectivity’-obsessed, both-sides journalism is a failed experiment,” a 30-year-old reporter tweeted in 2020 after being pressured to leave the Washington Post by an editor who has since retired.

The unfortunate truth, of course, is that he was speaking for an entire generation of upcoming young journalists now rapidly taking control. And it is largely that generation that is producing—and often challenging—the current coverage of Gaza.

You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m not in their camp. As the Jewish son of a Holocaust survivor, I firmly support Israel’s right to exist and defend itself against attack. I also believe the actual goal of Hamas is to exterminate the Jewish state by any means necessary. And that much of Western coverage is serving that purpose by focusing on the tragic consequences of war rather than its imperative necessity.

From my perspective, in fact, there’s already a strong pro-Palestinian bias in most coverage. And I find it richly ironic that the journalists responsible for that bias are now demanding even more.

To be fair, the Los Angeles Times promptly banned as many as three dozen signers of the anti-Israel screed from covering Gaza-related news for three months, an action which, one of them complained on social media, “removes a great many Muslim journalists and most if not all Palestinians” at the paper from coverage.

To be honest, I’m not sure that’s such a bad idea.







David Haldane’s latest book, A Tooth in My Popsicle, is available on Amazon and Lazada. A former Los Angeles Times staff writer, he is an award-winning journalist, author, and broadcaster with homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Northern Mindanao, Philippines, where this column appears weekly in the Gold Star Daily.



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