Seven’s deadly sin

CHANNEL 7 has compared a terrorist who stabbed an innocent 70-year-old man with someone “having an argument with their mother” prior to a car accident.

The comments came from the network’s commercial director, Bruce McWilliam, when questioned by The AJN after the network ran a ticker saying “Israel: 16yo shot and killed by police” during the Sunrise program on Tuesday morning.

The ticker was in reference to the attack last weekend on a 70-year-old Palestinian man by two Palestinian girls, aged 14 and 16, in Jerusalem.

After stabbing the man, who they mistook for a Jew, the attackers were asked by police to drop their weapons. When they failed to do so, police opened fire, resulting in the death of the 16-year-old.

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None of this context was provided by Channel 7 in the ticker.

When initially questioned about this, McWilliam responded that “detail in the ticker was brief due to character limitations” and the full story had appeared in the Early News at 5:44am.

Asked whether this gave the majority of viewers – who would not yet be awake and watching television before 6am – the most important information about the incident, McWilliam replied: “We are not the thought or comprehension police are we?

“Same as when the cops drop someone in the western suburbs normally it’s because they were doing something naughty,” he said.

“If someone’s killed in a car chase do we have to say they were having an argument with their mother or they had exceeded their mobile phone or broadband plan?”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said media outlets which omit essential context and thereby “blur the lines” between victims and perpetrators of terrorist attacks are “detracting from, rather than enhancing, the public’s understanding of the nature of terrorism”.

“We don’t expect journalists to act as thought or comprehension police, but we do expect them to understand the difference between essential and incidental context, and to ensure that they fulfil their responsibilities as journalists to report the news accurately by providing the former,” he said. “We have seen far too many examples of shameful lapses in reporting standards during the recent wave of terrorist atrocities, especially in relation to those committed by Palestinians in Israel.”

Calling on the broadcaster to apologise, B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich said Channel 7 “acted irresponsibly and misled its viewers, grossly distorting the reality of what happened”.

“I am also outraged with the offensive and flippant equation drawn by Channel 7 in which they liken omitting the fact that the 16 year old was trying to murder a Israeli with a car fatality victim who exceeded their broadband plan,” he added.

“Over the last two months, young Palestinian men and women, like this 16 year-old, have killed scores of Israelis and injured many more. We expect media outlets to be fair and balanced on this very complex and painful subject, and to avoid careless reporting such as on this occasion.

“We call on Channel 7 to acknowledge they made an error, to apologise, and to make a serious commitment to avoid similar distorted headlines.”

GARETH NARUNSKY