I have in the past written a number of articles (for example, here) discussing the preponderance of what I call “partisan reporters” covering the Israel-Palestine beat for the corporate media. These are journalists who have a strong emotional attachment and personal investment in Israel. Often it takes the form of the reporters serving in the Israeli army themselves or – as it did in the case of the previous New York Times bureau chief, Ethan Bronner – of their children doing so.
This conflict of interest is never disclosed either by them or by their media organisations, and, of even more concern, their partisanship only ever extends in one direction: in favour of Israel.
The NYT in this regard is a serial offender. Another of its reporters, Isabel Kershner, is married to Hirsh Goodman, who works for the Institute for National Security Studies, one of those security think-tanks “tasked with shaping a positive image of Israel in the media”. Studies of her work suggest it draws heavily on the work of the INSS.
Now it emerges that the NYT’s Jerusalem bureau has yet another partisan reporter, this one with two children who have recently served or are currently serving in the army. The NYT disingenuously disputes that Myra Noveck is a reporter, even though she gets bylines in the paper and its sister paper the International Herald Tribune.
Instead they call her “a long-time news assistant”. A statement from the NYT says:
She works under the direction of our bureau chief primarily doing translation and research. She is an Israeli citizen. If she has children and they are also Israeli citizens, presumably they would be required to serve in the military. This situation would not constitute a ‘breach with impartiality.’
(Interesting that it was obviously too much trouble for the NYT to pick up the phone and ask Noveck whether her kids are or were in the army. So we’ll just have to make do with a “presumably”.)
How stupid do these media organisations think we are? She does much of the research and translation for the bureau chief, selecting the information on which NYT stories are based – that is, when she is not actually writing the stories herself. So she has a strong input into the selection of stories, angles, quotes, statistics and, of course, tone.
In which case her conflict of interest is highly pertinent to whether she should be employed in the Jerusalem bureau. According to the NYT’s own ethnics standards, she should be reassigned. But of course she doesn’t want to be in the Madrid, Paris or London bureaus. She wants to be in Israel because, well, she’s a partisan reporter.