Saturday, March 2, 2024

Christiane Amanpour Confronts CNN Brass on Israel Coverage


CNN Employees Confront Network Executives Over Coverage of Israel’s War on Gaza

CNN employees, including the renowned international news anchor Christiane Amanpour, recently confronted network executives over what they described as myriad leadership failings in coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza. The leaked recording of a recent all-hands meeting at CNN’s London Bureau on February 13 shed light on the staffers’ concerns and frustrations.

Challenges in Coverage Protocol
During the hour-long meeting, staffers raised questions about CNN’s protocols for covering the war in Gaza and the perceived hostile climate for Arab reporters. Many junior and senior CNN employees expressed feeling devalued, embarrassed, and disgraced by CNN’s war coverage. The panel of executives, including CNN Worldwide CEO Mark Thompson, CNN U.S. Executive Editor Virginia Moseley, and CNN International General Manager Mike McCarthy, responded with assurances that the concerns were being heard while defending CNN’s work and citing the challenges of gaining access inside the Gaza Strip.

Issues with Routing Coverage
One recurring issue brought up during the meeting was CNN’s process of routing coverage related to Israel and Palestine through the network’s Jerusalem bureau. This protocol, known as SecondEyes, has been in place for years but was expanded last summer. The process slows down reporting on Gaza and filters news through journalists in Jerusalem who operate under Israel’s military censor. Amanpour expressed her distress with SecondEyes, highlighting concerns about changing copy and double standards in reporting.

Internal Criticism and External Backlash
CNN, like other mainstream news organizations, has faced internal and external criticism for its coverage of Israel and Gaza. Accusations of minimizing Palestinian suffering and uncritically amplifying Israeli narratives have been leveled against the network. Recent incidents, such as describing an Israeli massacre as a “chaotic incident,” have drawn further scrutiny. The network has been accused of journalistic malpractice in its coverage of Gaza.

Staff Concerns and Impact
During the meeting, several staffers spoke candidly about their concerns with CNN’s war coverage. They noted that the coverage had weakened the network’s standing in the region and left Arab staffers feeling expendable. One journalist shared their distress at turning to CNN during a crisis in southern Lebanon only to find coverage that was more distressing than the situation itself.

Addressing Hate Speech and Bias
Staff members raised questions about hate speech in coverage and bias in reporting. They expressed concerns about platforming individuals who promote violence or use dehumanizing language. Some employees felt pressured to denounce certain groups to be taken seriously as journalists. The lack of diversity in key roles, such as SecondEyes, was also highlighted as an area needing improvement.

Moving Forward
As the meeting progressed, Amanpour emphasized the importance of sending experienced experts to cover contentious stories like the conflict in Gaza. She stressed the need for truthful reporting that captures the humanity of all sides involved. The discussion touched on the challenges of reporting in conflict zones and the responsibility of journalists to speak truth to power.

In conclusion, the internal meeting at CNN highlighted deep-seated concerns among employees regarding the network’s coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza. The issues raised underscore the importance of transparent and unbiased reporting in conflict zones. Addressing internal criticisms and working towards a more inclusive and diverse newsroom will be crucial for CNN to regain trust and credibility in its coverage of sensitive geopolitical events.

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