NYT asks journos to not use ‘genocide’, ‘Palestine’ in reports on Israel’s war on Gaza: The Intercept

An internal memo allegedly told journalists to avoid phrases like ‘refugee camps’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ too.

WrittenBy:NL Team
The logo of The New York Times and a picture of Gaza.

The New York Times allegedly issued a memo to its journalists asking them to “restrict” the use of a host of terms and phrases in connection with Israel’s war on Palestine in “evidence of the paper’s deference to Israeli narratives”, The Intercept reported.  

The Intercept said it obtained a copy of this memo, which asked the journalists to “restrict” the use of the terms “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing”. It also told them not to use the term “refugee camps” to describe areas historically settled by displaced Palestinians, or even the word “Palestine” itself, except in “rare” cases. 

The directive – reportedly written by Times standards editor Susan Wessling, international editor Philip Pan, and their deputies to “offer guidance” – also asked the journalists to “avoid” the phrase “occupied territory” when describing Palestinian land under Israel.

The memo was first issued in November, soon after the war began between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas on October 7.  It was subsequently updated. It reportedly said it was “accurate to use ‘terrorism’ and ‘terrorist’” when describing Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7. It directed journalists to “avoid” the use of “fighters” and “militants” in connection with the attack and instead use “terrorists, attackers, assailants, gunmen”.

It is worth noting that the memo’s directives run contrary to several international standards, applied by the United Nations, such as its recognition of the “refugee camps” in Gaza and the word “Palestine”.   

The report in The Intercept anonymously quoted employees of the NYT as saying that the memo is “apologetic” to Israel and it applies “unique standards” to “violence perpetrated by Israel”. It also claimed that internal tensions were rife at NYT, with arguments and debates erupting on WhatsApp chats and Slack groups – many of which were addressed in the Gaza memo.

But this is yet another chapter in the decades of problematic coverage of Israel and Palestine. Read this piece in Newslaundry on why there’s now shrinking space for Palestinian voices.

Also see
article imageLet’s Talk About: Israel and Palestine
article imageJournalists slam Biden admin for accusing HuffPost reporter of fabricating quotes in Gaza report
article image122 deaths and counting: Despite ICC, ICJ cases, little hope for press freedom in Gaza

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