Telegraph article on Abraham Accords conflates fact with (Palestinian) opinion

The Accuracy Clause of the Editors’ Code includes the following:

“The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.”

This codification of the journalistic principle that it is intrinsically misleading to news consumers when media outlets conflate fact with opinion is important in light of the increasing prevalence of this distortion within the broader MSM.

As such, the following sentence in an article by their Middle East correspondent Abbie Cheeseman (“UAE cabinet approves establishment of embassy in Tel Aviv in further sting to Palestinians”, Jan. 24) caught our attention.

The normalisation deals have served a severe blow to international hopes of a two-state solution and to many hopes for Palestinian statehood.

The details and word choices are important.

Most straight news articles like this – at the Telegraph and elsewhere – would typically employ modifying words like “some observers believe” that the “normalisation deals have served a severe blow to international hopes for a two-state solution”, to make it clear that the political impact of the Abraham Accords is of course disputed.

In fact, here’s a comparable sentence written by James Rothwell, the Telegraph’s Jerusalem correspondent, in a Sept. 15th article (“The key winners and losers of Israel’s peace agreements with UAE and Bahrain”), which avoids such a distortion.

From the Palestinian perspective, Mr Trump’s latest deal has undermined their negotiating position in the Arab world, with the UAE and Bahrain now signalling they want to take a completely different path to securing peace.

As you can see, Rothwell made it clear that he was characterising the “Palestinian perspective” of the Abraham Accords.

As an analysis published at The Conversation about the problem of conflating news with opinion aptly observed, “the idea that opinions bleed into the news report potentially leads readers to suspect that reporters have a political agenda, which damages their credibility, and that of their news organizations”.

We contacted Telegraph editors to express our concern about the language used by Ms. Cheeseman.

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