Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rare journalism surfaces at AP

It did at least two times yesterday.

One report was bylined Ibrahim Barzak and Diaa Hadid, datelined Gaza City. War Zone Central. In so many words (i.e., unvarnished truth), it condemned the warfare state, its crimes, and its suffering-deniers.

Here's the lede from "Gaza hospital overwhelmed by dead, wounded":

Wailing in grief, Salah Samouni banged his head against a wall inside the hospital morgue where the bodies of his three young nephews lay on the floor Monday.

After 10 days of a relentless Israeli assault, Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest, is overwhelmed. Bodies were crowded two to a morgue drawer, and some - like 3-year-old Issa, 4-year-old Mohammed and 5-year-old Ahmad - were on the floor.

Shifa's shabby halls echoed Monday with the sounds of people screaming and the wail of ambulance sirens. Many of the wounded were being treated in hallways by harried doctors and nurses running on little sleep. The hospital was powered by emergency generators after shelling damaged power lines. [1]

Much obliged to the compiler and editor on a rare journalistic performance: you actually didn't throw in a lame Israeli excuse before the lede was complete. The rest of the report is not too shabby either: almost no state-worship. Instead, the suffering of individuals at the hands of the state is brought to bear.

Here are grafs 4–6:

Since Israel began a ground offensive Saturday, most of the dead and wounded arriving at Shifa are civilians, as Israel's offensive shifts from airstrikes to artillery shelling and fighting close to densely populated areas.

Israel says it is targeting only the Hamas militants who control Gaza in an attempt to halt seven years of rocket fire at Israeli communities. But the 550 Palestinians who have been killed include at least 200 civilians, according to Dr. Moaiya Hassanein of the Gaza Health Ministry.

On Monday, 20 children between the ages of 2 and 15 were killed, he said. Since the military offensive began Dec. 27, three Israeli civilians and two soldiers have been killed.

That, my friends, is journalism. The state gets its words in, but is naturally refuted by documented facts on the ground, without the editor inserting himself. Morality and humanity need not be preached if they can be demonstrated. Please do more of that, AP W. Jerusalem.

News reports don't have to be packed with legal talk either, as long as someone is divining or stating moral and legal points on behalf of the state's victims, for a span. But please do provide paragraphs from authoritative or just credible third-party sources that are not immediately (rather, not dutifully) refuted with fantastic and Orwellian quotes from state officials. It's so easy and, in addition, natural (as in, rights). For the first time in many moons, AP approached these goals in a report bylined John Heilprin and datelined the United Nations.

Here's the lede from "UN contradicts Israel over depth of crisis in Gaza":

The United Nations said Monday there is an "increasingly alarming" humanitarian crisis in Gaza, directly contradicting Israeli denials that its offensive caused the growing problem.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes told reporters Monday that U.N. officials believe as many as 25 percent of the 500 people killed in the fighting are civilians and that Gaza's health system is "increasingly precarious" due to the more than 2,500 injured.

He said Gaza is running low on clean water, power, food, medicine and other supplies since Israel began launching a heavy attack on the militant Islamic group Hamas that controls Gaza's government, first with airstrikes and then with troops and tanks. [2]

The cookie-cutter phrasing — "militant Islamic group" — is troubling. But overall, the reporter (and editor) relates the naturally anti-state truth. It is ugly truth, but guess what: the state casts more ugliness than any journalist could adequately describe, and more evil than any editor can conceal.

AP West Jerusalem and AP editorial management,

Not that I am skeptical in any way (ahem), but, please let more of this truth make the wire; let this become a trend. It would pay off in more ways than you will experience as a perceived undeclared mouthpiece.

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1. apnews.myway.com/article/20090105/D95H6UN80.html
2. apnews.myway.com//article/20090106/D95HAKPG0.html

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DT readers,

It's good to expose them when they're awful, but equally important to at least encourage them for moments like these. If you agree that these two reports go way above and beyond AP's typically failing performance, then send AP a line. You can copy, paste, and email the text above this section, or simply give them a call and say, "I commend you for the journalistic integrity on display in these two reports ... Please keep up the good work!"

AP Jerusalem Bureau
PO Box 13172
Jerusalem 91131
Israel
Tel: 972-2-538-5577
Fax: 972-2-537-6083
Bureau Chief, Steve Gutkin: sgutkin@ap.org
Managing Editor, Josef Federman: jfederman@ap.org

AP Headquarters
450 W. 33rd St.
New York, NY 10001
Tel: 1-212-621-1500
Email: info@ap.org

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