It began with a man rowing a 1,200-pound pumpkin down the Missouri River. That was the first news item I saw on TV after one of the major cable networks broadcast horrifying, graphic footage of the deadly airstrikes into Gaza launched by Israel Defense Forces on October 7th. The jarring disconnect between the two news items spoke volumes about what’s wrong with corporate news and the version of the world it attempts to sell us.
Events in Gaza are mainstream news today due to the violent actions of Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces. But, for decades, US corporate media have treated daily life in Gaza as nonnews. Faulty, biased news coverage did not create the inhumane conditions in Gaza or the violence that torments it now, but this biased reporting indirectly perpetuates and multiplies human suffering.
One consequence of this incomplete and biased coverage is that, for nearly everyone in the United States, Gaza’s inhabitants are “unpersons,” to borrow George Orwell’s term. In Orwell’s 1984, an authoritarian government erased people from history; in this era of global digital communication, corporate media wield similar power.
The corporate news media’s long-term erasure of Gaza and its inhabitants is almost certainly based partly on the tacit (but sometimes overt) racism that distorts coverage of the Middle East in general and Palestine in particular; but misleading coverage is also a result of corporate news outlets’ relentless focus on novel, dramatic events rather than long-term, systemic issues. These journalistic biases result in the minimization of Palestinian deaths and ahistorical reversals of victim and victimizer.
For these reasons, Project Censored recently issued a statement condemning the establishment news media’s coverage of current events in Gaza.
Project Censored has been highlighting these issues for some time. Most recently, we’ve published Robin Andersen’s article, How Big Media Facilitate Israeli War Crimes in Gaza, and featured a broadcast interview with Nora Barrows-Friedman of the Electronic Intifada, who debunked many common US and Israeli talking points on the crisis. You can watch Eleanor Goldfield’s interview with Nora Barrows-Friedman on the Project’s YouTube channel.
But the Project covered Palestine as a significant but badly neglected news topic long before the human cataclysm that began on October 7th. Dating back twenty years or more, the Project’s annual book series has frequently featured coverage of Palestine among the year’s most important stories neglected by the establishment press. See, for example:
- Repression of Palestinian Media, featured in State of the Free Press 2023;
- Canary Mission Blacklists Pro-Palestinian Activists, Chilling Free Speech Rights, from State of the Free Press 2022;
- Silenced in Savannah: Journalist Abby Martin Challenges Georgia’s BDS “Gag Law,” covered in State of the Free Press 2021;
- Censorship of Al Jazeera Documentary Exposes Influence of Pro-Israel Lobby, in Censored 2020: Through the Looking Glass;
- Israel Counted Minimum Calorie Needs in Gaza Blockade, from Censored 2014,
- Human Rights Abuses Continue in Palestine, in Censored 2011;
- How Private Corporations Profit from the Occupation of Palestine and US Arms Used for War Crimes in Gaza, from Censored 2010;
- The World Bank Funds Israel-Palestine Wall, featured in Censored 2007;
- Plight of Palestinian Child Detainees Highlights Global Problem, from Censored 2006; and
- U.S. Aid to Israel Fuels Repressive Occupation in Palestine, from Censored 2004.
Beyond the Project’s annual “Censored” story lists, the Project Censored Show, broadcast on the Pacifica network and available online on demand, has frequently covered Palestinian issues and perspectives excluded by the corporate press, such as, for example:
- In March, an interview with Mnar Adley of Mint Press News on how Western media typically fail to cover everyday acts of brutality by Israel in occupied Palestine;
- In November 2019, Abby Martin discussed her documentary film, Gaza Fights for Freedom, and distortions and omissions in US news coverage of Palestine; and,
- Stretching back to the earliest Project Censored radio shows, in March 2012, Nora Borrows-Friedman, Huwaida Arraf, Laila El-Haddad, and Anna Balzter addressed human rights in Palestine and Israel.
A full list of the Project’s ongoing coverage of issues involving Palestine and Israel would be too long for one message. (But follow this link if you want to dig deeper.) The takeaway now is that it’s important to seek out trustworthy, independent sources for reporting on events in Gaza while using the lens of critical media literacy to examine establishment outlets’ coverage of those events.
Speaking on behalf of my Project Censored colleagues, I encourage you to support independent news organizations that defy the corporate news media’s exclusive—and increasingly deadly—definitions of who and what count as “newsworthy.”