Fair Coverage

What I Think: The mainstream media’s double standard is appalling.

Since late February, Russian forces have illegally invaded Ukraine, injuring and kill- ing civilians while destroying non-military targets such as hospitals and schools. As a result, Ukrainians fought back by any means to defend their homeland. They are called freedom fighters.

Crimes against humanity are all equally heinous, so any reporting on them should be comprehensive and impartial.

For decades, Israeli forces have illegally invaded Palestine, injuring and killing civilians while destroying non-military targets such as hospitals and schools. As a result, Palestinians fought back by any means to defend their homeland. Yet, they are called terrorists.

Why are the Ukrainians called freedom fighters while the Palestinians are called terrorists for fighting back similarly? Professor Beydoun of Harvard University, suggests an uncomfortable idea.

This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. [Kyiv] is a relatively civilized, relatively European […] city, where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen.”

— Charlie D'Agata, CBS News

He states that “the public’s ideal of freedom fighter and terrorist is intensely racial, which enables the seeing of lay Ukrainians taking arms and throwing Molotov cocktails as heroes and Muslims engaged in the very same acts, in pursuit of the same self-determination, as extremists.”

It may be easier for caucasian reporters to empathize with white Christian Europeans than brown Muslim Middle Easterners. The invasion of Ukraine has a religious and historical clarity whereas the situation in Palestine is steeped in religious and historical complexity. The invasion of Ukraine has a historical clarity that dates back almost a decade. For those interested in the history between the two nations, they could even go back a century. However, the repression of Palestine dates back at least seven decades with layers of historical complexity. In fact, the dispute dates back by millennia.

They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. […] War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations.”

— Daniel Hannan, The Daily Telegraph

For instance, how many reporters are aware that the Al-Aqsa mosque was just bombed during the holy month of Ramadan? Yet, how many reporters would not be aware if the Vatican was bombed during Christmas?

According to the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists, reporters are obligated to “avoid stereotyping.” Yet these professional journalists have shown blatant stereotyping. This biased reporting normalizes the suffering that Palestinians have had to endure, which has led to infrequent reporting. Due to this dearth, the general public is hindered from receiving updates about the continued suffering of Palestinians. This ultimately results in the lack of interest and the lack of funds that could appease their anguish. Therefore, their biased reporting prolongs pain.

You’re happy to correctly use the most strong and robust language to describe the crimes against humanity of Vladimir Putin, but you will not use the same strength of language when it comes to describing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.”

— Richard Boyd Barrett, Irish Parliamentarian in an address to his peers

If we cannot agree that all crimes against humanity deserve equal attention and outrage regardless of race and ethnicity, then what is the mainstream media telling us about humanity? Are only the fair-skinned deserving of fair coverage? How does this affect us as international students? When amateur reporters on social media practice more responsibility than seasoned professionals, who are the ones upholding ethical journalism?