Following Superstorm Sandy and the presidential election one of the biggest stories in the news the last week was the latest conflict in the long history of violence between Israel and Palestine. The long-running hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians have often been the focus of claims of media bias. Noam Chomsky has written extensively about perceived bias in U.S. media coverage of Israel-Palestine issues. These issues, and the discussions about media bias in news coverage, have returned to the forefront of public discourse this week.
For example: a Washington Post article focused on photographs of the most recent violence that were published this week. A picture taken by an Associated Press photographer captured a Palestinian man grieving while holding a small shrouded form in his arms, identified in news reports as the body of his infant son. This picture ran in several media outlets, including the front page of the Washington Post. Other photos from the conflict published this week showed images of dead bodies and injured people, including small children.
The Washington Post article considers the inequalities between the sides that often contribute to accusations of media bias. For one, the Israeli military has much more complicated weapons at their disposal than the Palestinians who carry out attacks in Israel. Supporters of Israel tend to cry foul when media reports characterize Israeli forces as aggressors in the conflict. The era of media convergence allows for a transformation of how the Israel/Palestine conflict is represented in the news media. Citizen journalists with access to the necessary technology and capture first hand accounts of the events and publish them online. The means are now in place for this sort of participatory journalism, and for the opportunity for individuals to circumvent the perceived institutional biases of media organizations. The question now is: will this new situation actually result in a change in how news of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is reported and perceived?