Saturday, April 12, 2008


The Australian reported yesterday about troubles at The Age - Age blighted by bias, selling its soul.

Staffers are becoming increasingly unhappy with the way editor Andrew Jaspan has been pushing them around. The major concerns have been about journos being pressured not to write negative stories about Earth Hour and sports coverage being compromised by commercial considerations. They are also not happy about Jaspan's decision to participate in the 2020 summit claiming the decision to do so "breached the journalistic principle that the reporter and observer cannot be a participant without affecting objectivity."

This is more than somewhat ironic because the Age Middle East Bureau chief, Ed O'Loughlin's objectivity has been under question for years and it doesn't appear to have worried Jaspan one iota although I believe that many at Fairfax are bemused by his reporting technique and the slanted nature of his work.

When Hamas decided to stage its own version of Earth Hour in January, O'Loughlin played along beautifully. The above Reuters photograph shows how cynically Hamas and its useful assistants in the media worked their readership when they turned off the lights. They did it in much the same way as a clever magician works his audience so that readers would associate the darkness with Israel's decision to reduce fuel shipments. The background of the above photograph shows that it was taken in sunlight so why were the curtains drawn? At the same time Israel's Ruttenberg power station in Ashkelon was still streaming electricity into Gaza and there had been no Israeli action that shut the city's lights off.

And O'Loughlin?

His report on Gaza's "Earth Hour" whitewashed Israeli claims of this obvious Hamas deception as if wasn't even happening. He produced this piece of magic by quoting a local United Nations apparatchik whose own sympathies lie with the Palestinians he employs, many of who are members of Hamas - The Apologists.

O'Loughlin fancies himself as a photographer and, as a sideline, has allowed his photographs to be used by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. I'm not suggesting that O'Loughlin has done this for commercial gain (there is no evidence of that); nor am I necessarily questioning the work of the PCHR. I do however, ask whether it is appropriate for a person in his position to be openly lending his support to one particular group in a manner that might clearly be seen as affecting his objectivity and his capacity to fairly and truthfully report on events in the region.

But then, his own work speaks for itself. doesn't it?


george greenberg said...

G'day mate,

While PCHR is nowhere near as problematic as some Palestinian organisations, its "philosophy" makes it clear where it stands. In the conclusion to the PCHR "philosophy" it is stated -

"Israel's violent campaign to crush the Al-Aqsa Intifada and maintain the Occupation since September 2000 has only strengthened PCHR's resolve to work for the protection of human rights in Palestine and secure adequate international protection for the Palestinian people."

There is nothing there about the violence of the Al-Aqsa Intifada and the fact that it was cynically unleashed on innocent Israeli citizens by Arafat as a response to Israel's peace offers at Camp David and then its later offers at Taba.

No doubt, the PCHR does good work but O'Loughlin's long-standing association with that group goes a long way to explaining the bias of his reportage.

There is a clear conflict between his position as a correspondent for a major news organisation and his duty to report honestly and fairly.

the Gharkad tree said...

PCHR recently issued a field update about the misuse of weapons by Palestinian Armed Groups and Security Personnel.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 15:00 on Sunday, a mortar shell fell near a house belonging to Mohammed Suleiman Bahar, 51, in the east of al-Boreij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. As a result, two of the owner’s children were wounded when they were playing near the house: ‘Abullah, 4, wounded by shrapnel to the head and the chest; and ‘Abdul Jawad, 8, wounded by shrapnel to the head. The two children were evacuated to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah town, but ‘Abdullah died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

PCHR is gravely concerned for the increasing number of casualties resulting from the misuse of weapons. PCHR calls upon concerned authorities to take necessary measures to ensure the non-recurrence of such incidents, which cause civilian fatalities, and to ensure protection for civilian and their property.

We all know full well that the intended victims of these weapons are not Palestinians but Israelis. It's really instructive that this so-called human rights group issues this warning in this form because it shows they don't really give a rat's about the civilian fatalities these weapons might cause to the other side.

Some human rights group (but very suitable buddies for Mr. Ed).