The story of New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner having a son now enlisted in the IDF continues to cause angst across the world.
This Al-Jazeera report outlines the issues and provides evidence for the prosecution, namely that Bronner’s reporting is inherently more sympathetic to the Zionist line:
The Times itself has followed up the story with another comment by the Public Editor and some letters:
I believe the need for Ethan Bronner’s reassignment is clear. Could you imagine if the Jerusalem bureau chief of any major media source was the father of a Palestinian militant? It’s a nonstarter, and it’s common sense.
If a media source actually aspires to be unbiased, not just the voice of a popular liberal narrative, then the need for reassignment and a serious examination of policy are self-evident.
Grand Rapids, Mich., Feb. 7, 2010
The Public Editor Clark Hoyt argues:
…There is a huge difference between being a Jewish reporter covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and being a reporter whose son has enlisted in the Israeli military. For one thing, as the letter from Ira Glunts illustrates, there is no unanimity among Jews about Israel. To suggest otherwise is to buy into stereotypes. Good reporters bring their life stories to their work and learn both to mine them for material and to correct for bias. But having a son take up arms in a foreign fight you are covering — any fight — creates intolerable pressures and appearances, in my view. I would have said the same thing if The Times had had a reporter in Northern Ireland with a son in the British military there — or fighting with the Provisional Irish Republican Army.
I tend to agree with Hoyt on this point. Bronner’s religion isn’t the issue here but his perspective. Being a Zionist is also fine but it must be fairly balanced with reports by individuals not so heavily invested in the Zionist project.