Reports on the border

According to The New York Times, foreign correspondents in Israel trying to cover the latest conflict have not received permission to cross the...

According to The New York Times, foreign correspondents in Israel trying to cover the latest conflict have not received permission to cross the border into Gaza, which inhibits attempts to report accurately. The cause? A two-month-old Israeli ban on foreign journalists entering Gaza. The Times attributes part of the reasoning to Israel's desire to "control the message."
Like all wars, this one is partly about public relations. But unlike any war in Israel’s history, in this one the government is seeking to entirely control the message and narrative for reasons both of politics and military strategy.

The ban is a result of the media’s effect on Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah, a former Israeli army spokesperson told the Times. Apparently, reporters on and off the battlefields in Lebanon got in the way of military operations.

Much of the outcry from the ban is related to foreign media relying on local Palestinian news from Gaza. To contribute to the message filling international airwaves, the Times reports that Israeli political and military commentators and private groups, “financed mostly by Americans,” are helping guide the press around Israel.

One of these groups is the Israel-based nonprofit organization MediaCentral. Aryeh Green, director of MediaCentral, stated via e-mail that the organization is providing media relations services and facilities to outlets including The New York Times, BBC, CNN, and Al-Jazeera in Jerusalem. Though "independent of any governmental influence or funding," the organization was recently to asked by the Israeli Prime Minister’s office to set up a “Chapak Kidmi” or “forward command center” in Ashkelon to assist journalists in the area.

Green stated, “MediaCentral has been an objective/neutral facilitator… helping [reporters] to develop a more nuanced understanding of the context, history, and correct chronology of the Hamas rocket fire and Israel’s defensive operation(s) as well as encouraging the use of unbiased terminology when reporting.”

While these kinds of organizations may be helping to balance the message, how much do they contribute to the issue of accuracy, if at all? Would love some thoughts.

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