jewin' the fat


New Matilda needs a New Perspective
July 8, 2009, 12:27 PM
Filed under: Comment, media | Tags: , , , ,

In recent weeks, the debate has raged between traditional, print-based journalists, and new media reporters on websites like TMZ, as to just what constitutes journalism. People like Hartigan would sooner see news online crash and burn, rather than admit to the insufficiency of traditional media to combat online’s immediacy and mobility.

But he does have a point in one particular point – Who is a journalist these days? Can you compare the skill, talent and knowledge of a print-trained journalist Vs. a blogger? Do we even need a journalism degree, or is a cadet-ship sufficient to ensure practical, professional and ethical standards for those who write in for our nation’s fourth estate?

No where is this more apparent than in the independent media sources we find online these days. Web-based, opinion heavy news sources that attempt to provide an ‘alternative’ viewpoint, for the discerning news consumer. However, this ‘alternative’ position, though generally purporting to maintain balance and professional ethics in this new format, also provides something that print media has not.

Real-time reader comments.

Now, this is no letter-to-the-editor. This is purely and simply, a chance for the readers to vent their spleen at the content on the website. Sometimes insipid, sometimes controversial, sometimes blindingly ignorant – these comments are what makes new media work. Doing away with the censorship and filtering of the editorial department of the newspapers, new media gives the ordinary layperson, the chance to air their misspelt, grammatically incorrect diatribe – even if it completely off topic. POWER TO THE PEOPLE.

Of course, when the people are racist, prejudiced, hate-mongering or inciteful, the comments are disallowed. The comments aren’t actually posted are they? There IS someone monitoring the comments, isn’t there? It’s not just a free-for-all, is it? And if some should fall through the cracks, They ARE deleted … Right?

newmatilda  is a self-described news, analysis and satire media outlet, with a strong independent, left-leaning, “fighting-for-the-underdog” slant to their articles – be they soft/hard news or comment pieces/analysis. So straight off the bat, while promoting themselves as non-partisan (with “no association with any political party or media organisation”) they are subcribing to a small ‘l’ liberal outlook, with a penchant for misleading their readers with undefined analysis-as-news. Someone should get these kids a dictionary*.

*(Dictionary.com defines ‘non-partisan’ as ‘objective’ and, ‘objective’ as ‘not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased’. Ain’t that a kick in the head.)

Propagandising or Pitiful?

Propagandising or Pitiful?

Those people who follow newmatilda for a laugh, a head scratch or simply to get themselves fired up before hitting the gym would be well aware of their track record on Middle East reporting. If not, let me fill you in with this, and this, and this, and oh, this. And that’s not even getting into their recent coverage of the recent war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza. Point is, they are known for their pro-Palestinian coverage, for their categorization of Israeli sources or sympathisers as ‘propaganda’, and their refusal to balance the Loewnstein/Brull double acts with another perspective. But the Anti Defamation League took issue with their refusal to address issues of bias, and they came up with this report, as covered by Israeli English language daily The Jerusalem Post.

newmatilda  contributers Anthony Loewenstein and Michael Brull hit back the same day with ‘If You Don’t Agree With Us You’re Antisemitic’, underneath which the comment section was thankfully disabled. Such a ‘headline’ would have sent the comments into an MJ-is-dead-on-Twitter meltdown.

Michael Danby MP dared to take on NewMatilda

Michael Danby MP dared to take on NewMatilda

Finally, the editors of newmatilda decided to act, as mentioned by shutting down the comments capabilities on any/all Israel/Palestine articles, and issuing this unapologetic editorial.

So here we stand. A source that refuses to stop fuelling the fires of racial villification, hate-speech and Holocaust Denial by addressing the bias within its editorial department, but insists on “reluctantly” removing the ability of readers to show their distaste?

For a site to insist on the high standards of its professional journalistic integrity, it needs to admit that something is not right. And we need to call newmatilda to account. As Thomas Friedman said:

“Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction – out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East – is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.”

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