Activist journalists out of bounds

May 3, 2007

May. 2, 2007 12:00 AM

From The Arizona Republic Newspaper, Phoenix, USA

Well, the jig is up. Journalists are taking sides on political issues.

Make that some journalists. Some wrongheaded, activist journalists in Great Britain, to be more specific, have concluded they must boycott Israel for its “savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon” last year.

Representatives of Britain’s 40,000-member National Union of Journalists voted last month 66-54 to condemn Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and to boycott its products.

From the union’s 51-page list of resolutions passed at its 2007 Annual Delegates’ Meeting: “This ADM condemns the slaughter of civilians by Israeli troops in Gaza and the (Israeli Defense Force’s) continued attacks inside Lebanon following the defeat of its army by Hezbollah.”

Objectivity in journalism is a delicate balancing act, at least as practiced in most Western democracies that subscribe to a citizen’s right to freedom of speech.

In the United States, journalists struggle with the implications of that balancing act pretty much every day. What’s the right word for this story? “Terrorist?” Or is it “insurgent”? What’s a proper tone for this report on the Supreme Court’s latest abortion-related decision? And so on, ad infinitum. In an instant-analysis Internet age in which all things have become political, every published word in every American journal is scoured for its prejudices.

In Britain . . . well, it’s different. Our compatriots across the pond can be considerably less scrupulous about avoiding political activism. And the union’s pretense-exploding hissy fit against Israel is an example.

It is far from the only example, though. The agenda of Britain’s largest association of journalists is larded with explicitly leftist causes. Many of them are fashionable and trendy, like cooing over the U.S.-baiting of Venezuela’s dictator-president Hugo Chavez.

So it should surprise no one that such an organization would decry the Middle East’s sole functioning democracy, with nary a word of condemnation for the Hezbollah terrorists whose kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers sparked the Lebanon war in the first place.