Former Middle East correspondent for The Australian John Lyons is right that objectivity doesn’t come easy when reporting from Israel (Media, 31/7).
His explanation for the claim, however, is not that information is harder to obtain in a conflict zone or that agendas are often opaque. but that Lyons says he found it hard to do his job because the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council called him out because it believed his reporting often lacked objectivity.
Of course journalists should report “what they see”, as Lyons says, but good journalists know they must also give meaning to what they see, provide context, and attempt to provide relevant perspectives in a balanced and fair way.
This leaves questions to answer: in our opinion, some of Lyons’ journalism features a propensity to rely on sources highly critical of Israel; tends to portray Israeli security measures without explaining their justification; and reports Palestinian allegations of mistreatment without giving Israel adequate opportunity to respond.
Promoting his new memoir, Balcony over Jerusalem, Lyons says AIJAC wields too much influence over journalists covering Israel.
As a mainstream Jewish community organisation working to facilitate positive Australia/Israel relations; to increase awareness of Israel’s security challenges; and to progress a two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace we engage politicians, the media and business to try to promote greater understanding of complex issues.
Read the full article by Mark Leibler at The Australian (subscription only).