Saturday, September 29, 2007

Anatomy of a media "scoop"

Monday morning update III:

The JPost explains (sort of)

Khaled Abu Tuomeh has written an explanation of how the Jerusalem Post was gulled on the supposed Gaza "honor killing". It is not entirely inconsistent with my guess of yesterday. Apparently, the reporter was gulled by some phone calls from "Fatah" telling him the video, readily available on the Internet with Iraqi provenance, was of a crime committed by Hamasmembers.

Unfortunately, Tuomeh gives us no proof the phone calls were inded from Fatah, though it is possible; his explanation is insufficient and self-serving. He lays blame on the Israeli military for his own failure to authenticate:

Since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, the IDF has banned Israeli journalists from entering the area. Consequently, the Israeli media (and many foreign journalists) are forced to rely on local reporters and Fatah and Hamas officials as a main source of information.

As the French say, Qui s'excuse, s'accuse. Or is it the other way around in this case? Tuomeh doesn't seem capable of taking responsibility for what happened and his own role in it. Everything is impersonally written, yet this is clearly a personal event.

Who is Tuomeh and how is he being used and for what end? We also don't know the veracity of his previous report of lurid Fatah videos confiscated by Hamas - or where that came from.
In the larger scheme of things, this is just another small incident, but it is also another chink in the grand myth of media objectivity. Who is reliable? Probably no one.

Sunday night update II:
The Jerusalem Post explains: The story was faked:

As part of a campaign to discredit Hamas, Fatah has been using a video showing the killing of a girl in Iraq as "evidence" of Hamas's "atrocities" in the Gaza Strip.

Members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's security forces holding their riffles secure the main square of the West Bank city of Ramallah [illustration].Photo: AP [file]
On Friday, officials from the Fatah-controlled General Intelligence contacted The Jerusalem Post, offering the "exclusive" video and story for publication in Sunday's Post. They claimed that it provided fresh evidence of Hamas's "barbarity."

The officials even gave the Post the phone numbers of two men in
the Gaza Strip who claimed that they had witnessed the "honor killing" of the 16-year-old girl. The two confirmed (by phone) that they had witnessed the lynching of the girl in the Gaza Strip.

Since the Hamas takeover of the
Gaza Strip, the IDF has banned Israeli journalists from entering the area. Consequently, the Israeli media (and many foreign journalists) are forced to rely on local reporters and Fatah and Hamas officials as a main source of information.
The girl, along with her two sisters, was murdered in the Gaza Strip in July for "dishonoring" her family. And according to Palestinian human rights groups, at least 11 Palestinian women have been murdered in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the year in what is known as "honor killings."

But thanks to the awareness of readers and bloggers, who responded to an article on the video that was later removed from the Post's Web site on Saturday night, the Post did not carry the article in Sunday's paper and has ascertained that the supposed fresh "evidence" of another such killing is actually a Fatah hoax.

The video was authentic, but was filmed in April in Iraq. It shows members of the Yazidis sect killing one of their young girls for carrying on a romance with a Sunni Muslim boy.
According to Dion Nissenbaum, who covers the Middle East as Jerusalem bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers, the same video was feverishly sent around by e-mail and cell phone last month in Syria. Only the Syrians were telling each other this was an honor killing perpetrated by the Druse minority in southern Syria.

The Fatah security officials behind the story claimed on Sunday that they, too, had been misled by some of their colleagues.... (read the rest,

Sunday update I: There is some problem with this story, which I posted yesterday. Seems it is an old incident that took place in Iraq a few months ago and not in Gaza. Someone was playing a hoax on the journalist, for whetever reason. Hopefully we'll know more about it soon enough.

My original post:

"A fence of compassion and mercy"

According to this Saudi cleric:

"Islam protects women and guarantees their rights. Islam has surrounded the woman with a fence of compassion and mercy. It has shown that the twisted nature of women stems from their very creation."

Here's an example of this mercy and compassion:

After more than 20 years in the business, and just when you think you've seen it all, there's always something that shocks you more than ever.

This time it's the brutal murder of a 16-year-old girl in
the Gaza Strip. Her crime: "dishonoring" her family. Of course, there is no way to verify the allegations against her and other females who have fallen victim to "honor killings."

The gruesome murder occurred a few weeks ago, when the girl - who looks much younger than her age - was dragged into the street and handed to an mob of angry young men.
Eyewitnesses told The Jerusalem Post that many of those who participated in the lynch were
Hamas members and relatives of the girl.

A five-minute video obtained by the Post over the weekend reveals the savagery and mercilessness of the killers.

What's really disturbing is that none of those at the crime scene tried to intervene to save the girl's life.

More than 20 young men are seen beating, stabbing and kicking the little girl before smashing her head with large stones.

20 young men killing one girl.

In response to the journalist's query, a Hamas security official responds:

"In any case, we are against these killings because we don't want anyone to take the law into his own hands."

They are against "these killings" not because these are barbaric, wrong and criminal acts, but because they are "vigilante" initiatives. The killing in and of itself might be justified but the process by which it has been executed unsdermines the rule of law. The law inspired, I suppose, by the hadiths, that "provide some of the most decisive evidence that Islam protects women and guarantees their rights."

I wonder if the UN Council for Human Rights will discuss any of this any time soon. Yes, right. And pigs may fly...


At 8:00 PM EDT, Blogger ModernityBlog said...

I was lost for words on this after I came across on JP.

Hamas style law and order?

PS: Noga, never realised that you had a blog, I read your contributions on Engage and found that very intelligent and stimulating.



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