Local Paper’s World Coverage is Incomplete & Disappointing

It’s tough to operate a newspaper these days, particularly local papers that serve small and medium-sized communities. 

We have great respect for the work that local papers do to bring the news to their communities, including accessing outside news service reports to provide a smattering of national and global news.  We also understand that the space allotted for international news, by design, will be limited.  However, it is still the local paper’s obligation to get the story right.  If there isn’t enough space to properly report and explain the event, then perhaps no coverage is better than incomplete and/or misleading coverage.

A news item in the August 4, 2010 print edition of The State Journal-Register is a disappointing case in point.  On page 2, in the “WORLD” section, the paper included an Associated Press report of an incident between Israel and Lebanon that occurred the day before.  The report was abbreviated and did not contain any explanation about what precipitated the event, which, unfortunately, resulted in an incomplete and misleading news story.  This is particularly concerning because it’s likely that many of the paper’s readers will not have the opportunity to access complete news reports of the incident, and may easily walk away with the wrong impression – one that fuels an anti-Israel point-of-view. 

We’ll let you decide. 

Posted below are the item in The State Journal-Register, news coverage from three media outlets, a radio interview with the political advisor to the United Nations forces deployed along the Israel-Lebanon border, and some interesting questions to ponder.   

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IDF commander killed on Lebanon border

Excerpt:  Lt.-Col. (res.) Dov Harari, 45, from Netanya, was shot dead by a sniper from the Lebanese Armed Forces, and a company commander from his battalion, Capt. Ezra Lakia, sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. By Tuesday evening, Lakia was in stable condition at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. 

The violence began around noon, when a force from Harari’s reserve battalion entered an enclave along the border and near Kibbutz Misgav Am to conduct routine maintenance work. Enclaves refer to land that is sovereign Israeli territory but is on the other side of the border fence, which does not always run directly parallel to the internationally recognized border, known as the Blue Line.

The soldiers had coordinated their movement beyond the fence with UNIFIL and were working to cut down a tree when shots were fired in their direction. Lakia was shot in the chest by a Lebanese Army sniper, and Harari was shot in the head.

U.N. Supports Israeli Account of Border Clash

Excerpt:  The United Nations peacekeeping force in South Lebanon, Unifil, said on Wednesday it had concluded that Israeli forces were cutting trees that lay within their own territory before a lethal exchange of fire with Lebanese Army troops on Tuesday, largely vindicating Israel’s account of how the fighting started. Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a military spokeswoman, said that Lebanese Army snipers opened fire and that they “targeted our commanders,” who were observing the maintenance work.

Lebanon: We fired first at IDF unit near Israel border

Excerpt:  The Lebanese Army was first to open fire in the recent fatal border clash with Israel Defense Forces soldiers, a Lebanese source told the Lebanese newspaper A-Nahar on Wednesday. According to the IDF, fighting began after Israeli troops began what Israel said was a scheduled vegetation clearing activity on Israel’s side of the international borderline. In response to the activity, which Israel claimed Lebanon was notified of, Lebanese snipers opened deliberate fire at the IDF observation post several hundred meters into Israel, killing Lt. Col. Dov Harari and wounding company commander Ezra Lakia.

UNIFIL: IDF had coordinated previously and was operating within Israeli territory

Excerpt:  In an interview on Wednesday morning (Aug. 4) with Israeli Army Radio, Hungarian diplomat Milos Strugar, who is serving as the political advisor to the UNIFIL commander, explained that the work carried out by the IDF along the border with Lebanon took place within Israeli territory and was coordinated ahead of time with the Lebanese army.  Click here to listen to the interview and read a transcript.

Lebanon, Israel clash near border; at least four dead

Adeisseh, Lebanon – Lebanese and Israeli troops exchanged fire Tuesday in a fierce border battle that killed a senior Israeli officer, two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist – underlining how easily tensions can re-ignite along the frontier where Israel and Hezbollah fought a war four years ago.

It was the worst fighting since 2006 in the area, where Israeli and Lebanese soldiers patrol within shouting distance of each other, separated by the U.N.-drawn Blue Line boundary.

The fighting flared into Israeli tank, helicopter and artillery strikes near this Lebanese town, but ended after several hours and there was no sign that either side was preparing to escalate.

The Shiite guerilla force Hezbollah said it offered to help the Lebanese army but in the end did not get involved. “We told our brothers, control yourselves and don’t do anything,” Hezbollah’s leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah [said] in a televised speech.

But, he warned, his fighters would intervene if Israel if Israeli troops ever attack Lebanese forces again.

“Any Israeli arm extended against the Lebanese military will be cut off by the resistance,” said Nasrallah, whose arsenal is far more powerful than the Lebanese army’s.

(Copied from the August 4, 2010 print edition.  Source:  Associated Press.)

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Background

Special Alert: Media Collusion in Lebanon Ambush

Excerpt:  

What were photographers and journalists doing at the scene of the incident before a deadly exchange of fire between Lebanese and Israeli forces?

A fatal exchange of fire between Lebanese soldiers and the IDF on Israel’s northern border has left one Israeli soldier dead along with 4 other fatalities on the Lebanese side. The incident also raises questions concerning the integrity of the media that covered the events.

Lebanese forces opened fire on IDF soldiers performing routine maintenance work by the security fence near the border. The IDF soldiers were clearing bushes to improve the line of sight over the border and to prevent Hezbollah terrorists from hiding in the undergrowth and carrying out an attack or kidnapping. The routine work had been cleared in advance with UNIFIL.

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