CAMERA Takes on NY Times; Billboard Challenges Record on Israel

The billboard will be in plain sight of the Times building for six months.

The billboard will be in plain sight of the Times building for six months.
The billboard will be in plain sight of the Times building for six months.
The New York Times was forced to contend with a huge billboard strategically placed within sight of the newspaper’s Times Square headquarters on Friday, January 24. The billboard that Times employees will now have to look at for six months accuses the media group of having an anti-Israeli bias and was put up by CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, according to Algemeiner.

The billboard reads: “Would a great newspaper slant the news against Israel? The New York Times does.”

In the ad, CAMERA accuses the newspaper of “Misrepresenting facts, omitting key information, skewing headlines and photos” and exhorts it to “Stop the bias.”

The billboard also includes a link to a section on the CAMERA website to backup the accusation and also offers a link to a six-month study for further proof of the bias claim.

CAMERA Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini told Algemeiner that he has yet to learn of a reaction from the newspaper about the billboard, which went up on Friday morning, but he said, “I assume they’re not happy.”

Ini is a co-author, with Ricki Hollander, of “Indicting Israel: New York Times Coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict,” which is the CAMERA monograph about the newspaper’s reporting that the billboard references..

“The New York Times is famous for holding other powers accountable, and I know they feel a lot less comfortable with the spotlight on them; it’s safe to assume they’re not happy about this,” he said.

The rationale behind the giant billboard, CAMERA’s first, is “not something that comes out of the blue,” Ini said.

“We want them to pay attention, but this is not something that comes out of the blue, more of a continuum of a conversation. Over the years, we’ve met with their editors about our concerns, published a study zooming into fine detail about the nature of how they view news against Israel, published a monograph about our study, have run ads in the New York City area to get their attention; basically, we really do want them to hear our message every day.”

He said when they learned about the availability of the billboard space, in view of the New York Times’s headquarters, CAMERA jumped at the opportunity because the newspaper’s management would be “forced to contend with it.”

Algemeiner reportedly made numerous attempts to reach the Times’s communication department were unsuccessful, but several employees who picked up the telephone within the Times building confirmed that they saw the billboard. “I can’t see it from this side of the building, but I definitely did on my way in this morning,” one assistant told The Algemeiner. “Ya, it was pretty ugly,” said another.

CAMERA’s Ini said this was the Boston-based watchdog’s “first foray” into really confronting the Times in such a grand fashion and is a “step up” to raise awareness.

“This is a very influential newspaper read by millions and policy makers and people should know the facts about how they’re misleading readers,” Ini said.

“Sometimes we hear back directly when our work has immediate effect,” he said, adding that CAMERA has been successful at forcing the newspaper to issue retractions in the past and, on one story, three times.

“We contacted their editors about the misrepresenting of a UN resolution, and we pushed them, and they corrected it again, and again, and a third time, until the editor finally stood up and reprimanded the journalists, having them accept the fact they made a mistake.”

In CAMERA’s monograph about the Times coverage of Israel, Ini highlighted the reporting of Jodi Rudoren, the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent, who happens to be Jewish, among others.

“Problems continue with her work and the question of fairness may have gotten worse since she started. There’s a tendency to editorialize that puts harsh opinions into news articles where they don’t belong. Of course, the editorial pages can publish whatever opinions they want, but news coverage should be more impartial.”

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