Our New Editorial Policy: Rethinking Israel-Palestine

Throughout its history, The New York Times has aimed to uphold the highest principles of fairness and accuracy in our news coverage. We take this very seriously. We now recognize this sense of fairness has been absent in our paper’s coverage of ongoing conditions in Israel and Palestine.

Having met for the past several months with leaders of Palestinian and Jewish peace organizations, our editorial staff recognizes that accusations of bias in our coverage have been well-founded. For example, it has come to our attention that, during the period of September-October 2015, eighteen headlines depicted Palestinians, while none depicted Israelis, as instigators of violence. Our news stories referred to Palestinian violence 36 times and Israeli violence only twice. We used the word “terrorist” to describe Palestinians 42 times, but only once to describe an Israeli.

In light of this reality, The Times editorial staff has decided to make several changes in our editorial policy with regard to coverage of events in Israel-Palestine. These changes are an attempt to address both realities on the ground and the concerns readers have expressed about fairness in our coverage. Some changes will regard substance.

We will also be attentive to distortions of style and attribution. When reporting views of government and security officials, we will be careful to indicate when something is alleged or attributed rather than to convey it as known fact.

In addition, we are aware that a disproportionate number of our news stories in the past year and a half have focused on Israeli government statements and positions or the views of Israeli Jewish citizens; only a small fraction have featured Palestinian speakers, whether officials and advocates or residents who experience the effects of Israeli policies in everyday life. When reporting on victims of violence, we have profiled and named Jewish Israelis more frequently than we have Palestinian victims. Beginning now, we will attempt to redress this and other imbalances. To this end, one of our immediate goals is to add correspondents from the region who are Palestinian, and to include reporters and authors of opinion pieces who are reflective of the communities they are covering or writing about.

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