By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Abdallah Fayyad

Two Globe journalists are among more than 750 decrying Gaza war coverage

Two Boston Globe journalists have signed an open letter that criticizes the Western media for their coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas. According to The Washington Post (free link), more than 750 journalists from dozens of media outlets have signed the letter, which begins:

Israel’s devastating bombing campaign and media blockade in Gaza threatens newsgathering in an unprecedented fashion. We are running out of time.

More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s four-week siege. Included in the mounting death toll are at least 35 journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in what the group calls the deadliest conflict for journalists since it began tracking deaths in 1992. Scores more have been injured, detained, gone missing or seen their family members killed.

As reporters, editors, photographers, producers, and other workers in newsrooms around the world, we are appalled at the slaughter of our colleagues and their families by the Israeli military and government.

We are writing to urge an end to violence against journalists in Gaza and to call on Western newsroom leaders to be clear-eyed in coverage of Israel’s repeated atrocities against Palestinians.

The Globe journalists who signed the letter are Peter Bailey-Wells, a multi-platform editor on the Express Desk, and Sahar Fatima, a digital editor for metro coverage. Another signer, Abdallah Fayyad, recently left the Globe’s opinion section to take a position at Vox. “My hope for this letter is to push back on the culture of fear around this issue, and to make decision-makers and reporters and editors think twice about the language that they use,” Fayyad told the Post.

Although the letter makes reference to Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel, in which more than 1,400 people were killed and 200 were taken hostage, the emphasis is on the way that Israel has conducted its campaign against Hamas in Gaza. As the Post notes, “Most strikingly, the letter argues that journalists should use words like ‘apartheid,’ ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘genocide’ to describe Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.”

The letter may also raise issues at news organizations that ban their journalists from taking sides on controversial matters, although this may prove to be less of an issue than it might have at one time. Several years ago news organizations like NPR and the Globe loosened some of their restrictions on political activities, especially those that advocated racial justice.

Frankly, if I worked at the Globe I would not have signed the open letter because I don’t think it sufficiently acknowledges the suffering of Israelis or their right to self-defense. But it doesn’t strike me that Bailey-Wells’ or Fatima’s journalistic fairness will be compromised because they chose to sign.

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The Globe is named a Pulitzer finalist for editorials about post-Trump reforms

Photo (cc) 2021 by Brett Davis

A great editorial should persuade and effect change. But what if there is little or no chance that urgently needed reforms will be enacted? That was the challenge facing The Boston Globe editorial board last year when it published a series of essays arguing that the loopholes enabling Donald Trump’s corruption as president need to be closed so that nothing like it can happen again.

The editorials, by board member Abdallah Fayyad, were recognized Monday with a Pulitzer Prize finalist’s citation for “a persuasive editorial series arguing that the president of the United States could be prosecuted for crimes committed in office.” It was the closest that the Globe came to winning a 2022 Pulitzer. As Fayyad wrote:

Presidents in a democratic system of government are not meant to be able to extract personal profits from government service — or hand out pardons to imprisoned buddies, pervert justice, or foment an insurrection. That’s the promise of democracy: that it will be superior to these authoritarian tendencies of tyrants and kings. When these laws and norms are violated, they should be backed up by severe consequences if that democracy is to maintain its integrity. But right now, as it stands after Trump’s four years in office, American presidents can, in fact, commit all those abuses — and suffer little more than losing their Twitter account.

Nothing has changed. And given Trump’s continued vice grip on the Republican Party, which exercises effective veto power over any reform Congress might try to enact, nothing is going to change — at least not anytime soon.

Still, it’s worth laying down some markers. It was undeniably a good thing for a major journalistic institution like the Globe to explain why Trump was able to get away with all of it, and what it would take to prevent a future president (perhaps Trump himself) from engaging in the same kind of misconduct.

In the Globe’s own coverage of Monday’s announcement, Fayyad said: “It was surreal seeing my name up there on the broadcast alongside such great journalists. But I knew the project was deserving of this recognition because it wasn’t just my work; it took a whole team to make the series what it was — an amazing team at that.”

By the way, it looks like even the minor slap on the wrist Trump received by having his Twitter account canceled was only a temporary setback. Elon Musk, who’s poised to buy Twitter, said earlier today that he would allow the former president back onto the platform.

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