And You Thought We Didn’t Care

November 13, 2009
By | 1 Comment

Who wants to do some research?  Me neither, let’s just Google instead (and for those of you snarkily remarking that you thought that that’s what Cultural Studies research is…shhhhhhh).

Last week Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas announced his intention not to run for reelection (big) if and when a vote is held.  This isn’t the forum to discuss the political significance of this move, but I thought I’d throw out some quick observations on the international media side of the story.  Here’s a quick list of how a variety of news sites were treating the story roughly a day after the announcement:

Maan News (West Bank)- Multiple stories that took up about half of the front page on the site.

Al Jazeera (Qatar)- Second story on front page with large picture.

Haaretz (Israel)- Fourth story on the front page.

Jerusalem Post (Israel)- Fourth story on the front page, already reporting the inevitable “Abbas may change mind” which perhaps makes it a slightly newer story.

LeMonde (France)- Not mentioned on front page but noted as part of a Goldstone Report story and editorial on the international page.

Jyllands-Posten (Denmark) Last two articles on international page, ready to disappear at  any moment.

New York Times– A fairly substantial front page story with a picture of Abbas.

Wall Street Journal– Top story in “World” Section.

Washington Post- Featured prominently under “More Headlines.”

London Times–  Second story in “World” section, saying Abbas will “abandon post in fresh peace blow.”

Guardian (UK)- Small story featured half way down the World Page.

I don’t know much about Asian sources but I couldn’t find a single mention in English at least.

What might we learn from this?  Well, for one, it probably helps confirm the notion that stories relating to Israel are of greater interest to the American press than continental Europe.  The New York Times was the only source to give the story the kind of attention it received locally, with the most obvious difference being the use of a photograph on the front page.  The ‘liberal media’ accusers probably have something to say about that but really it seems more like evidence that people simply care about this issue within the Times‘ target demographic.  Being based in a city with a million Jews and a strong Arab community certainly helps.  There was a relative lack of obvious (meaning REALLY obvious) politicization of the story with the exception of The London Times, which seemed to be reporting the story as an aggressive, anti-peace move on Abbas’ part and LeMonde, which didn’t want to take a break from the Goldstone report in order to look at the messy side of internal Palestinian politics.  Both approaches are kind of disappointing and easily in line with the London Times’ staunch conservativism and Le Monde‘s tradition of harsh criticism of Israel.


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One Response to “ And You Thought We Didn’t Care ”

  1. Ben Teaford on November 15, 2009 at 8:39 PM

    I remember hearing fairly substanial coverage of the story on NPR the day it came out and I think even the day after. This might actually fall under your “liberal media” category though, as I think it is safe to say that NPR is skewed towards upper-class intellectuals, a population that tends to be pretty liberal.

    Very interesting idea though to look at stories through different news windows. I remember listening to an interview with Chuck Klosterman who believed that the idea that certain newspapers have biases was a myth, but I think you’ve provided strong evidence to the contrary. This was certainly a huge story and all sources needed to give this proper coverage.

    One final point in my lengthy comment, but do you think that the various time differences could play a part in the coverage of this story? If you had actually looked at a real newspaper versus the website, would these differences have been as exaggerated? Some countries would have had longer to digest the story than others and thus it might not have been as prominently featured as a result.