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Media Report Card

New York Times Gets Failing Grade in Israel/Palestine Coverage

Contact: Alison Weir 310-441-8580

Full Report at

Off the Charts - New York Times Coverage of Israeli and Palestinian Deaths

LOS ANGELES: A study released today on New York Times coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reveals that the Times reported Israeli deaths at rates up to seven to ten times greater than Palestinian deaths.

The study shows that in 2004, at a time when 8 Israeli children and 176 Palestinian children were killed – a ratio of 1 to 22 – Times headlines and lead paragraphs reported on Israeli children’s deaths at a rate 6.8 times greater than Palestinian children’s deaths.

A one-month sub-study indicated that this disparity grew when the entire article was analyzed, with Israeli children’s deaths mentioned (through repetitions of deaths reported on previous days) at a rate ten times greater than Palestinian children’s deaths.

Coverage of deaths of all ages, while less dramatically skewed, showed similar distortion. According to the report, in the first year of the current Palestinian uprising, which began in fall of 2000, the Times reported prominently on Israeli deaths at a rate approximately three times greater than Palestinian deaths. During this period over three times more Palestinians were being killed than Israelis.

Entitled “Off the Charts,” the study was conducted by If Americans Knew, a nonprofit organization that specializes in media analysis.

Authors of the report presented their findings to the New York Times ombudsman. (Read an account of this meeting.) Phone calls to New York Times news editors have not been returned.

“Our findings are especially disturbing,” points out Executive Director Alison Weir, “Since it is so important that American taxpayers, who are providing $8 million to $15 million per day to Israel, be accurately informed on this issue.”

Weir notes that 82 of the Palestinian children were killed before any Israeli children were killed. “Yet, almost no one is aware of this fact, since Times coverage consistently omitted or minimized coverage of these Palestinian deaths.

“We found that Times reporting regularly gave readers the impression that equal numbers of people on both sides were being killed – or that more Israelis were being killed – when the reality is that Palestinians have always been killed in far greater numbers.

“In particular, we found that Times stories so often repeated reports of Israeli children’s deaths, that in some periods they were reporting on Israeli deaths at a rate of 400 percent.

“In contrast, the majority of Palestinian deaths – particularly children’s deaths – are never reported by the Times at all.”

Weir notes that since the Times is often considered “the newspaper of record,” with hundreds of newspapers subscribing to the New York Times News Service, the paper’s distortions become replicated throughout the country.

“In fact,” Weir says, “Since Times stories are longer than most newspapers have room for, they are almost always cut. Because Palestinian deaths are frequently reported at the end of the article, this means that many American newspapers are reporting Palestinian deaths at even lower rates than the Times.

“Unintentionally, editors around the country are reporting this issue with a distortion based on ethnicity that most would oppose, if they were aware that they were doing it.”

* Read the full report.

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Media Report Cards

Deadly Distortion: Associated Press
Jan. 2004 - Dec. 2004

Off the Charts: ABC, CBS, & NBC
Sep. 2000 - Sep. 2001
Jan. 2004 - Dec. 2004

Off the Charts: New York Times
Sep. 2000 - Sep. 2001
Jan. 2004 - Dec. 2004

SF Chronicle (CA) Report Card
Sep. 2000 - Mar. 2001

San Jose Mercury News (CA) Report Card
Oct. 2002 - Mar. 2003

San Jose Mercury News (CA) Report Card
Apr. - Sep. 2002

New London Day (CT) Report Card
Mar. - Jun. 2003

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