Gaza: Distorted, Then Forgotten

Marina Litvinsky’s Inter Press Service review (1/31/09) of “U.S. television coverage of the recent three-week conflict in the Gaza Strip” comes to the unsurprising conclusion that TV journalists “failed to tell both sides of the story, according to a number of media analysts.” But a larger trend is in evidence too: “The most recent conflict… garnered some media attention, with an unusually large spike in coverage, but that level sank as the fighting dragged on”:

During both the first and second weeks of the attack, including a massive aerial attack and a full-scale ground invasion of the tiny, densely populated Gaza Strip, the conflict was the top story on the nightly newscasts of the three major U.S. networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), where it got 55 minutes of total airtime.

But the first two weeks of fighting were “an aberration in terms of coverage by American broadcast networks”, said Andrew Tyndall of the Tyndall Report…. “It’s very rare for a foreign story to have that kind of status for two weeks.”…

After the initial abnormal spike, however, coverage of Gaza fell significantly. In the week of January 12, the last full week of fighting, the conflict was discussed for a total of 20 minutes by the three networks.

Litvinsky’s observation that “U.S. foreign news coverage has been on the decline. In 2008 attention to international news was at its lowest since the Tyndall Report was first published in 1988″ prompts the age-old quandary: With a press this bad, is relative silence a blessing?