Western Media and its Failure to Uphold Its Journalistic Integrity
By Maeve Topliff
Since October 7th we have sat and watched in horror as Palestine is bombed to the ground.
And for those who do not take their research past popular news outlets the coverage of these atrocities sound something like this:
“Accidentally a stray bullet found its way into the van ahead and killed a three or four-year-old young lady.”
What a palatable way to report the heinous murder of a child! The British media plays such a pivotal role in informing public opinion and the ways that it has avoided assigning any blame to Israel for their violence in Gaza is a clear alignment with our government who are actively sustaining this attack. Language is the structure that upholds all human understanding, it is how we communicate, express love, express hatred, and how we have ultimately devalued Palestinian life by creating language biases that seep into the population’s perspective on the current ethnic cleansing.
We know of language’s influence because from this realisation came propaganda. During World War Two the Nazi’s used dehumanising language, comparing Jews to rats, demons, and infections, to interact with the emotional part of the brain and reassign Jewish people as threats. This began before the Holocaust, it was trickled into society, so that by the time they began systematically killing Jews they had laid the groundwork for Jews to be seen as less than human. This has been studied, sociologists and psychologists recognise this as a cultural phenomenon used specifically in mass violence. The atrocities of the Holocaust sparked the whole world to chant ‘never again’ and twenty-two years later when Israel began occupying Palestine the west continued to chant ‘never again’ while patting themselves on the back for their progressiveness.
But that was a lie. In fact, it seems the west are back for more as they relentlessly support and enable Israel in its endeavour to bomb Palestine into non-existence. And the news outlets are working with them hand in hand to influence our understanding of these crimes. With small changes in the language of their reporting where those who die in Israel are murdered and in Palestine they are simply found dead dehumanise Palestinians and with each headline reduce their suffering more and more. Using emotional language like murdered or reporting Hamas exclusively as terrorists not only ignites fear of Palestinians but misrepresents the power imbalances between the two countries. The language repeatedly used by the BBC and seemingly most of the western media makes sure to dull your reactions to the ‘explosions’ in Gaza while tugging at your heartstrings for the Israeli hostages freed from terrorists. They completely neglect to show us coverage of now grown men returning home from imprisonment in Israel who were taken when they were but sixteen.
While stifling accurate footage of the atrocities taking place and squashing stories of life and love in Palestine the media pushes a one-sided narrative and ensures anyone who is not willing to do their own research is more inclined to blindly follow the (government funded) news that they bring you on a platter. So the cries of Palestinians begin to fall on deaf ears because they are being deplatformed. Even celebrities who show their support for Palestine are deplatformed with one of the most notable instances being Melissa Barrera who was cut from the Scream franchise due to her support of Palestine.
After the media have stifled news out of Palestine, they then begin to shift their language.
Babies are no longer children; they are young men and women. Hospitals are no longer bombed, they spontaneously explode, and almost nowhere will you see ‘Israel’ in any of these headings, nor will they receive any accountability within the reporting. Hamas, who were voted into power and who have committed a fraction of the atrocities the Israeli government have, are a terrorist organisation, but a government who has vowed on record to wipe Palestine from the earth, are not.
That the world can repeat the behaviours it demanded it would never let happen again and that the west can once again manipulate the narrative to serve their own selfish colonialist ideals while we, the public, refuse to come unbound from the spell that the media attempts to place on us drains all belief in humanity I previously held on to. Never once would the murder of a white British or American be published as a death, and we all know if it was, there would be apologies, retractions and vigils in their name.
Part of the unending shame that this brings so many of us is while the western media hides behind its cowardly governments, Palestinian journalists put their lives in danger every day to uphold their journalistic responsibility. Since October 7th Israel has murdered an estimated 87 Palestinian journalists, along with their families in yet another attempt to silence their suffering and misconstrue the atrocities occurring every second of every day in Palestine. While our journalists at the BBC sit behind their huge desks in their heated, comfy, safe offices and newsrooms they desecrate the ethics of journalism. They shamelessly align with political biases and ensure colonialism continues to march on. The rate at which media professionals have been killed in Palestine is reportedly unlike any other, any news coming out of Palestine is a disadvantage to Israel and it is because of this that these journalists are being targeted. I wonder if the journalists who chose their words so carefully as to not assign any blame to the perpetrators of an ethnic cleansing feel guilty knowing that in the absence of their journalistic integrity there are people across the world risking their lives to uphold theirs.
It is our duty, as journalists, to share truth, and play our part in fighting for justice.
It sounds cliché but words truly are weapons and our government, and the media are using them like bombs to dehumanise, stifle, and systematically murder an entire country of people for their selfish gain. Put respect on the name of every Palestinian you labelled as ‘dead’ and we as people must reject the clear biases in western reporting and hold them accountable. No more bullets finding their way into the hearts of children that had so much life left to live, only compassionate and genuine reporting that should contribute to Israel's behaviour being marked as what it is, acts of criminal war.