Critique of US journalism

The Revealer has a great post “Who Was Yassin?” about reporting on the assassination of the Hamas leader.

We have to turn to the foreign press to learn anything substantial about the religious views of the “spiritual leader” whose worldly terror has been a constant factor in U.S. foreign policy. . . . [W]hy has our press ignored the “spiritual” dimensions of this “spiritual leader”? Two possibilities. One is that the journalists assigned to cover the Middle East are political reporters. They approach religion as simply a veneer for political motives, and rarely bother to learn its intricacies.

The other, deeper problem, is with the narratives available for religion stories even when a reporter tries to pay attention. Most religion writing is divided between innocuous spirituality and dangerous fanaticism, with subcategories for “corruption,” “traditionalism,” and wacky. . . .

So what does our press do? Nothing. A major enemy of peace in the Middle East has just been killed, and yet we learn almost nothing about what made him fight or why he is mourned. Opponents and supporters of the Palestinians remain in the dark, uninformed by a press incapable of breaking the narrative to investigate — and perhaps help eradicate — the roots of terrorism. It’s easier to stick to the “he-said/she-said”-with-guns version of events that reduces it all to retaliation, to hopeless spirals of violence and ancient ethnic hatreds, to enmity without reason.

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