Reuters employee issues “Zionist pig” death threat

May 30, 2006

* American blogger told: “I look forward to day when you pigs get your throats cut”
* Reuters confirms it has suspended an employee

 

CONTENTS

1. “I think it’s more than fair to say that Reuters has a big problem”
2. “Zionists up to mischief”
3. “A news agency that will not call a terrorist a terrorist”
4. Online petition to get Guy Goma a job at the BBC
5. “Reuters employee issues ‘Zionist pig’ death threat” (Yediot Ahronot, May 30, 2006)
6. “Reuters recruits 100 journalists” (Guardian, May 30, 2006)
7. “Petition launched to get Guy Goma a BBC job” (Daily Telegraph, May 30, 2006)
8. “The case of Reuters” (By Tom Gross, National Review, July 26, 2004)



[Note by Tom Gross]

“I THINK IT’S MORE THAN FAIR TO SAY THAT REUTERS HAS A BIG PROBLEM”

“I look forward to the day when you pigs get your throats cut,” was the message an employee for the Reuters news agency sent to American blogger Charles Johnson, publisher of the popular Little Green Footballs weblog.

The Reuters employee, who has since been suspended, left his email address as “zionistpig” at hotmail.com, but it was later identified as coming from a Reuters IP.

Johnson commented that “I was surprised to receive a threat from a Reuters IP, but only because it was so careless of this person to use a traceable work account to do it.” He added that “I think it’s more than fair to say that Reuters has a big problem.”

Johnson, who is not Jewish, has criticized Reuters for its often-biased coverage towards Israel. In the past, Johnson has recommended my article “The case of Reuters” on his site (attached at the foot of this email, or at www.tomgrossmedia.com/Reuters.htm.)

“ZIONISTS UP TO MISCHIEF”

In an additional twist, Johnson traced the movements of the sender of the threat, and found direct parallels between the internet locations of the sender and Inayat Bunglawala, Media Secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain. It is thought the two may be connected.

Bunglawala, who has contributed an editorial to the website of the British daily The Guardian, previously declared that the British media was “Zionist-controlled.”

In the comment section of the Guardian, underneath his own editorial, Bunglawala denied sending the threat, instead blaming “Zionists up to mischief.”

Last year, Bunglawala was selected as one of seven “conveners” for a (British government) Home Office task force with responsibilities for tackling extremism among young Muslims. This is in spite of his having a long track record of anti-Semitic comments when he was editor of “Trends,” the “magazine for young Muslims.” These include: “the Zionist movement is at the core of international banking and commerce” (Vol. 3 issue 6); “Michael Green, of the tribe of Judah, Michael Grade. Alan Yentob. So that’s what they mean by a ‘free media’” (Vol. 4 issue 4); his description of Israel as “the Zionist cancer” and as Hamas as “a source of comfort for Muslims all over the world” (Vol. 6 issue 2); and so on.

Perhaps it is not surprising that The Guardian has now invited Bunglawala to contribute to its website.

“A NEWS AGENCY THAT WILL NOT CALL A TERRORIST A TERRORIST”

Reuters has also announced that it is in the process of hiring 100 journalists after three years of reorganization. The Guardian (article attached below) reports that “Reuters is also hiring special journalists to write about religion, terrorism, health and entertainment.”

It will be interesting to see how the new Reuters special journalists write about terrorism, since as I commented in “The case of Reuters,” Reuters is the “news agency that will not call a terrorist a terrorist.”

ONLINE PETITION TO GET GUY GOMA A JOB AT THE BBC

Included in the dispatch BBC slips up with taxi driver (& Rapper Jay-Z: Anti-Semitism not cool) (May 18, 2006), was a video and article on the man mistakenly interviewed live on the BBC.

Guy Goma, a graduate from the Congo, was mistaken for a leading internet expert as he waited to be interviewed for a job in the BBC’s IT department. Goma was also mistaken for a taxi driver by Reuters in the article included in that dispatch.

Goma, who has now gained near-celebrity status in Britain and beyond as a result of the BBC’s mishap, has become the focus of an online petition, launched to get him a job at the BBC, and stop him from being deported as it is thought he may have overstayed his visa. The petition and commentary, which can be found at www.guygoma.com, urges the BBC to give him the job he wanted, or, preferably, a better one. For more, see the Daily Telegraph article below.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

REUTERS EMPLOYEE ISSUES “ZIONIST PIG” DEATH THREAT

Reuters employee issues ‘Zionist pig’ death threat
Worker suspended after telling American blogger: ‘I look forward to day when you pigs get your throats cut’
By Yaakov Lappin
Yediot Ahronot
May 30, 2006

www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3256534,00.html

A Reuters employee has been suspended after sending a death threat to an American blogger. The message, sent from a Reuters internet account, read: “I look forward to the day when you pigs get your throats cut.”

It was sent to Charles Johnson, owner of the Little Green Footballs (LGF) weblog, a popular site which often backs Israel and highlights jihadist terrorist activities.

In the threat, the Reuters staff member, who has not been named, left his email address as “zionistpig” at hotmail.com.

Reporting the message to his readers, Johnson wrote on his website: “This particular death threat is a bit different from the run of the mill hate mail we get around here, because an IP lookup on the sender reveals that he/she/it was using an account at none other than Reuters News.”

Speaking to Ynetnews, Johnson said: “I was surprised to receive a threat from a Reuters IP, but only because it was so careless of this person to use a traceable work account to do it.” He added: “I think it’s more than fair to say that Reuters has a big problem.”

After bringing the threat to the attention of Reuters, Johnson was told by the news organization’s Global Head of Communications, Ed Williams: “I can confirm that an employee has been suspended pending further investigation. The individual was not an employee of Reuters’ news division.”

In an additional twist, Johnson traced the movements of the sender of the threat, and found direct parallels between the internet locations of the sender and Inayat Bunglawala, Media Secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Bunglawala, who contributed an editorial to the Guardian website, has attracted negative attention in the past after making anti-Semitic outbursts, and has declared that the British media was “Zionist-controlled.”

In the comment section of the Guardian, underneath his own editorial, Bunglawala denied sending the threat, blaming “Zionists” instead. “That was not me! Methinks some Zionists are up to mischief,” he wrote.

“There is strong circumstantial evidence connecting Bunglawala to the threat, but there is no way for me to verify this for certain. Only a Reuters network administrator would have access to the necessary records,” Johnson said.

 

REUTERS IN THE PROCESS OF HIRING 100 JOURNALISTS

Reuters recruits 100 journalists
By Stephen Brook
The Guardian
May 30, 2006

media.guardian.co.uk/presspublishing/story/0,,1784142,00.html

Reuters, the international news and financial information company, is in the process of hiring 100 journalists after three years of cost cutting and reorganisation.

While the new hirings will boost the ranks of Reuters journalists to 2,400, this is still short of the 2,500 journalists who worked for Reuters in 2000.

“At a time when other media organisations shrink, we are expanding our global reach,” said David Schlesinger, the global managing editor and head of editorial operations. “First, we had to right our ship. Now the ship is righted, we can look to new markets.”

The company is hiring 21 political and general news journalists across the world and 12 new editors for its global picture desk, which is now run from Singapore following a reorganisation.

Reuters is also hiring special journalists to write about religion, terrorism, health and entertainment.

The company, founded by Paul Julius Reuter in London in 1851 to transmit stock market data from London to Paris, is also expanding its presence in several US cities, including Cincinnati.

To cover its financial services business, the company will recruit business journalists to report on the US treasury, equities, commodities and the energy industry.

Additional journalists are being hired to cover China and India. “This really is the China century,” Mr Schlesinger said. “We will now have 160 to 170 journalists in greater China. When I was Beijing bureau chief in 1990s, we had four people in Beijing, four people in Hong Kong and three people in Taiwan.”

The new staff will work across Reuters’ operations, including its news wire service, new media activities and its financial services operations, which generate the bulk of its revenues.

In recent years, the company has expanded its online operations to make its stories more widely available to the general public in addition to Reuters’ traditional clients newspapers and other media groups.

The company is also expanding its coverage of sport, with three sport writers in the US and a sports writer in Beijing, as well as a sports editor in Singapore in preparation for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Reuters has made extensive preparations to cover the World Cup next month. The company will have 56 photographers in place for the tournament, plus 11 from Action Images, the London-based sports picture agency Reuters bought in September.

Forty journalists writing in four languages, 10 video staff and Reuters’ German bureaux will cover the sporting event.

Reuters has extensively reorganised its picture operations in time for the World Cup. “Five minutes after the action has happened on the field, we will have the picture on our website for our clients,” said Monique Villa, the managing director of Reuters Media, the division that covers picture operations and news wires.

Last month, Reuters released a first-quarter revenue statement that showed a 13% increase in turnover to 633m. Revenues rose by 4% (if currency fluctuations, disposals and acquisitions are excluded) beating analysts’ forecasts of a 2.5% increase in organic turnover. Ms Villa said Reuters Media’s growth was approaching double digits this year.

 

THE RIGHT GUY FOR THE JOB

Petition launched to get Guy Goma a BBC job
The Daily Telegraph
May 30, 2006

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/05/30/ugoma.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/05/30/ixnews.html

An online petition has been launched to get the man mistakenly interviewed on BBC News 24 a job at the corporation.

Guy Goma, a graduate from the Congo, was mistaken for a leading internet expert as he waited to be interviewed for a job in the BBC’s IT department.

He was thrust onto live TV and asked for his opinions on the Apple vs Apple court case, a subject he clearly knew little about.

Despite his bravery and perseverance in pressing ahead with the bizarre exchange, Mr Goma has since discovered that he has not got the data support cleanser post he had applied for.

Now the www.guygoma.com website has started an online campaign to get him a job at the BBC. The petition urges the corporation to give him the job he wanted, or, preferably, a better one

The mix-up which shot Mr Goma to fame occurred when a producer went to collect an expert from the wrong reception in BBC Television Centre in west London.

The producer asked for Guy Kewney, editor of Newswireless.net, who was supposed to be interviewed. After being pointed in Mr Goma’s direction by a receptionist, the producer who had seen a photo of the real expert checked: “Are you Guy Kewney?”

The economics and business studies graduate answered that he was, and was then whisked up to the studio, where his live ordeal began.

Mr Goma’s interview led to several TV appearances, including The Jonathan Ross Show and manning the phones for the Prince’s Trust broadcast.

He is also auctioning the lucky blue shirt he wore during the interview for Oxfam, at www.15minutesauction.com.

 

THE CASE OF REUTERS

The case of Reuters
A news agency that will not call a terrorist a terrorist
By Tom Gross
The National Review
July 26, 2004

www.nationalreview.com/issue/gross200407120846.asp

Many people still think of Reuters as the Rolls-Royce of news agencies. Just as the House of Morgan was once synonymous with good banking, Reuters has long been synonymous with good news-gathering. In 1940, there was even a Hollywood film about Paul Julius Reuter, the German-Jewish immigrant to London who as early as 1851 began transmitting stock-market quotes between London and Paris via the new Calais-Dover cable. (Two years earlier he had ingeniously used pigeons to fly stock prices between Aachen and Brussels.)

His agency quickly established a reputation in Europe for being the first to report scoops from abroad, such as news of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Today, almost every major news outlet in the world subscribes. Operating in 200 cities in 94 countries, Reuters produces text in 19 languages, as well as photos and television footage from around the world.

Though it may report in a largely neutral way on many issues, Reuters’s coverage of the Middle East is deeply flawed. It is symptomatic, for instance, that Reuters’s global head of news, Stephen Jukes, banned the use of the word “terrorist” to describe the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks. Even so, such is the aura still surrounding Reuters that news editors from Los Angeles to Auckland automatically assume that text, photos, and film footage provided by Reuters will be fair and objective. Reuters and Associated Press copy is simply inserted into many correspondents’ reports even in papers such as the New York Times and Washington Post without, it often seems, so much as a second thought given to its accuracy.

This has led to some misleading reporting from Iraq, and still worse coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The newswires are much more influential in setting the news (and hence diplomatic) agenda of that struggle than most people realize.

“REUTERS SETS THE TONE AND SPIN IS EVERYTHING”

One veteran American newspaper correspondent in Jerusalem, eager to maintain anonymity so as not to jeopardize relations with his anti-Israel colleagues, points out that “whereas foreign correspondents still write features, they rarely cover the actual breaking news that dominates the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In terms of written copy on the conflict, I would estimate that 50 percent of all reporting, and 90 percent of the attitude, is formed by these news agencies. The important thing about Reuters is that it sets the tone, and here spin is everything.”

“If, for example, a Reuters headline and introduction say that Israelis killed a Palestinian, instead of saying that a Palestinian gunman was killed as he opened fire on Israeli civilians, this inevitably leaves a different impression of who was attacking, and who defending.”

In a study last year, the media watchdog HonestReporting found that in “100 percent of headlines” when Reuters wrote about Israeli acts of violence, Israel was emphasized as the first word; also, an active voice was used, often without explaining that the “victim” may have been a gunman. A typical headline was: “Israeli Troops Shoot Dead Palestinian in W. Bank” (July 3, 2003). By contrast, when Palestinians attacked Israelis (almost always civilians), Reuters usually avoided naming the perpetrator. For example: “New West Bank Shooting Mars Truce” (July 1, 2003). In many cases, the headline was also couched in a passive voice.

Often it is a question of emphasis: Important and relevant information is actually contained in Reuters text, but buried deep down in the story. Many newspaper readers, however, never get beyond the headlines, and for space reasons many papers carry only the first few paragraphs of a report often inserted into their own correspondents’ stories. When the TV networks run only brief headlines, or Reuters news ribbon at the foot of the screen, the full text is never shown.

Sometimes, Reuters presents unreliable information as though it were undoubtedly true. Most people are unlikely to notice this. For example, Reuters will note that “a doctor at the hospital said the injured Palestinian was unarmed” when in fact the doctor couldn’t possibly have known this, since he wasn’t present at the gunfight. But because he is a doctor, Reuters is suggesting to readers that his word is necessarily authoritative. Yet, Reuters headlines and text are used unchanged by newspaper editors because they assume it is professional, balanced copy, which doesn’t need any further editing.

Reporters of course can’t be everywhere at once. The increased speed of the Internet and the demand for instant, 24-hour TV news coverage means that the world’s news outlets rely heavily on Reuters and the AP, which in turn rely on a network of local Palestinian “stringers.” Virtually all breaking news (and much of the non-breaking news) on CNN, the BBC, Fox, and other networks comes from these stringers.

PROVOKING THE WRATH OF ARAFAT’S SECURITY FORCES

Such stringers are hired for speed, to save money (there is no need to pay drivers and translators), and for their local knowledge. But in many cases, in hiring them, their connections to Arafat’s regime and Hamas count for more than their journalistic abilities. All too often the information they provide, and the supposed eyewitnesses they interview, are undependable. Yet, because of Reuters’s prestige, American and international news outlets simply take their copy as fact. Thus non-massacres become massacres; death tolls are exaggerated; and gunmen are written about as if they were civilians.

As Ehud Ya’ari, Israeli television’s foremost expert on Palestinian affairs, put it: “The vast majority of information of every type coming out of the area is being filtered through Palestinian eyes. Cameras are angled to show a tainted view of the Israeli army’s actions and never focus on Palestinian gunmen. Written reports focus on the Palestinian version of events. And even those Palestinians who don’t support the intifada dare not show or describe anything embarrassing to the Palestinian Authority, for fear they may provoke the wrath of Arafat’s security forces.”

One Palestinian journalist told me that “the worst the Israelis can do is take away our press cards. But if we irritate Arafat, or Hamas, you don’t know who might be waiting in your kitchen when you come home at night.”

Some of Reuters’s Palestinian stringers are honest and courageous. But, according to several ex-Reuters staffers, they feel the intimidating presence of Wafa Amr, Reuters’s “Senior Palestinian Correspondent.” Amr who is a cousin of former Palestinian minister Nabil Amr, and whose father is said to be close to Arafat had this title specially created for her (there is no “Senior Israeli Correspondent,” or the equivalent in any other Arab country) so that her close ties to the Palestinian Authority could be exploited.

As one former Reuters journalist put it: “She occupies this position in spite of lacking a basic command of English grammar. The information passed through her is controlled, orchestrated. Reuters would never allow Israeli government propaganda to be fed into its reports in this way. Indeed, stories exposing Israeli misdeeds are a favorite of Reuters. Amr has never had an expose on Arafat, or his Al-Aqsa Brigades terror group.”

But things may well be improving. Lately, with a new Jerusalem bureau chief, Reuters has taken some steps to ensure greater balance. For example, it no longer claims Hamas’s goal is merely “to set up an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza” (which it is not), but instead writes that Hamas is “sworn to Israel’s destruction” (which it is).

Reuters no longer carries the highly misleading “death tolls” at the end of each story that lumped together Palestinian civilians, gunmen, and suicide bombers. (Agence France-Presse continues to do this.) And, apparently, there are plans to relocate Wafa Amr by next year. Is it too much to hope that one day soon Reuters might actually call terrorism terrorism?


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.