Columbia Journalism Review´s Anti-Israel Lies Exposed (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Gil Ronen 04/17/12)
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The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) website posted an article Monday
that severely criticizes an article by Justin Martin, that appeared
on CJR two weeks earlier, which portrays Israel as a country that
stifles the press. Martin´s reply to the criticism exposes at least
one outright lie in his claims.
The original article by Martin, a journalism professor at the
University of Maine, relied on statistics from the Committee to
Protect Journalists (CPJ) to determine that Israel ranks second in
the world in a ranking he titled "Jailed Journalists by Population."
The ranking was obtained by dividing a country´s population by the
number of journalists detained in it.
Eritrea came in first and Iran came in third, followed by Syria,
Myanmar, Ivory Coast and Rwanda.
Monday´s critique by Sohrab Ahmari notes that Martin drew political
conclusions from the data. Although “the Islamic Republic is up
there,” he wrote, “Eritrea and Israel also need to do some
"Israel jails more journalists than either the Palestinian Authority
(zero) or militant group Hamas (three), both of which it criticizes
for human rights miscarriages," wrote Martin. He went on to explain
that countries like Eritrea do not care if they are portrayed as
brutal. "Israel, though, wants to be called a modern democracy and
gets cranky when critics point out that it is not."
According to Ahmari, "Mr. Martin’s findings soon sparked a firestorm
of controversy, with supporters of Israel crying foul at the latest
instance of Israel-bashing in the prestige press. The outrage
intensified once Jodi Rudoren, The New York Times’s newly appointed
Jerusalem bureau chief, took to her Twitter account to weigh
in. ´What do Israel and Iran have in common? Jailing journalists,
according to [CJR],´ she wrote, without pausing to consider the
soundness of such a claim. (She later apologized.)"
"The outrage was justified," determined Ahmari. Martin’s methodology
was "a classic example of the sort of statistical recklessness that
CJR scolds other journalists for." He cited Commentary’s Omri Ceren
who pointed out that “If you want a ‘per capita’ number describing
which countries disproportionately target journalists, you divide the
jailed journalists in each country by the total number of journalists
in each country, not by the total number of people.”
"Otherwise," explained Ahmari, "tiny Israel—home to a huge press
corps and where commentators in the Arab and leftist presses
regularly question the state’s very right to exist—ends up appearing
more repressive than, say, North Korea, where a totalitarian regime
does not permit journalism as such to exist."
"In Iran, where I was born and spent the first half of my life,"
Ahmari added, "journalists and writers are persecuted on a nearly
industrial scale; dozens of outlets are shuttered every year… But why
should Western audiences care about these very real injustices when
seemingly authoritative ´statistics´ show the West—including Israel
and the U.S.—to be equally authoritarian?"
Justin Martin responded by saying – "I fully agree with this
criticism. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have reliable data on national
tallies for working reporters in many of the countries—Eritrea,
Sudan, Ethiopia—that jail journalists. And even if such data were
available, we would want counts of how many newsmakers in each
country were working for regime-owned news sources versus private
organizations. For now, although the data are a bit large and
cumbersome, ratios of imprisoned reporters to countries’ population
still deliver some meaning."
He denied any anti-Israel bias and even said that he "did Israel a
favor," because the CPJ data actually "make Israel look worse." He
explained that the CPJ report lists seven journalists as having been
detained in "Israel and the Occupied Territories" and that he did
some further reading and discovered that "three of them had been
jailed by Hamas in Gaza" -- so he reduced the number from seven to
This leads to at least two questions:
1. How could Martin claim that "zero" journalists were jailed by the
Palestinian Authority if he admits that three were jailed by Hamas in
2. Maybe journalists are not jailed because, like Vittorio Arrigoni,
they are abducted and murdered instead?
Question number one indicates that Martin simply lied when he claimed
there were "zero" journalists imprisoned by the PA, because he
admitted in his later posting that he knew at least three had been
imprisoned in Gaza. (IsraelNationalNews © 2012 04/17/12)
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