In early August, amidst the fighting in Gaza, we demonstrated that a headline used by Times of London editors in an article by Gregg Carlstrom included a charge – that Israel “admitted” to violating a truce with Hamas – which wasn’t accurate, and (just as importantly) wasn’t even minimally supported by the subsequent text.
Following our communication with newspaper editors, they eventually revised the headline accordingly.
Today, editors again chose a headline for an article by Carlstrom which leveled a charge not supported by the text, and which mischaracterizes a proposed bill designed to enshrine Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”.
In fact, the article actually notes that – under the version of a bill Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to approve on Sunday – “equal individual rights for every citizen” will reportedly continue to be protected, and that the law is specifically designed to establish “national rights” for the Jewish people, such as the right of every Jew to immigrate to Israel.
In fairness, it was reported on other new sites that a few opposition voices in Israel’s Knesset claimed the bill would have the effect of turning Arab Israelis into “second class citizens”, and the term was used in the article by Carlstrom in the sentence in bold below:
Mr Lapid, who heads the centrist Yesh Atid party, called it “a bad law, which is badly worded”. After voting against the bill, his faction held an emergency meeting to discuss further steps.Mr Lapid said that the bill would alienate Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 per cent of the population. They enjoy equal rights under the law, but in practice have long been subject to discrimination.Last week the mayor of Ashkelon tried to ban Palestinian construction workers from schools, a move met with derision. “This morning I spoke with the family of Zidan Saif,” Mr Lapid said, referring to a police officer from the Druze sect who was killed in a shootout with the synagogue attackers. “What can we say to this family? That he is a second-class citizen?”
However, if the sub editor responsible for the headline extracted the “second class citizen” charge from the comment by Lapid, it’s highly misleading to readers. An accurate headline can not pass off as fact – without quotes or some other qualifier – an accusation which is only claimed by some. (Note that the Accuracy clause of the UK Editor’s Code demands that the Press “must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”.)
We have contacted Times of London editors to request a revision of the headline, and will update you when we receive a reply.