Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Ruth Eglash, the journalist from The Jerusalem Post who wrote the misleading article about Jordanian blogger reaction to the Red Sea Cinema Institute. Here is what she wrote:
Thank you for your feedback on the article that I wrote this week regarding the opening of a film school in Jordan that will include Israeli students. I believe the project is an amazing opportunity for the whole of the Middle East and was extremely disappointed that commentators on several blogs that I visited seemed to be against the idea. My article was designed to raise that issue and counter it with positive comments from Israeli filmaker Dan Katzir. I would love to write something more positive but personal attacks on me and my journalism will not help. I simply report what I see and hear.
If, as you say, there is a large group of people in Jordan who believe in this project and believe it can work together with Israeli students then that is another good story. You and your community should send me your comments and perhaps I will do a follow up article showing that there are some people in this region willing to try. I know you are angry that I did not referrence your blog, however I was trying to show where the original comments came from and I believe that it is clear from the text that not only Arab bloggers are against the idea, there were some Israelis making negative comments too.
This was my reply:
Dear Ms. Eglash,
Thank you for taking time to respond to my concerns. As I mentioned in my post, there are several flaws in your article. First and foremost, you quote people in your article that are not bloggers. They are anonymous online commenters. A blogger is someone who owns and operates an online journal and not someone who leaves a comment on a blog. As a result, your story, which purports to be about the negative reactions of "Arab bloggers," is just flat wrong.
Let us play devil’s advocate here and actually examine the Jordanian bloggers’ reaction. The blogs that brought up the Red Sea Cinema Institute initiative were all supportive. As a journalist, why did you fail to note that in your article? And, though there are some negative responses in the comments, it is not hard to find positive comments as well. Look at my blog, Amin or Laith’s. As a western-trained journalist myself, I can tell you that your article is simply unbalanced and it willfully misrepresents the facts. You chose negative comments and then misrepresented them as the opinions of bloggers. I wonder why you would so deliberately misrepresent a source. I also wonder about your journalistic research when you simply select the exact same comments I noted in my post. Is that as far as you dug? Did you notice that my post showed "both" sides of the issue, highlighting my support but noting the possibility of controversy.
You indicate in your note to me that you were "disappointed" by the comments. This suggests you understand these are "comments" and that makes me wonder. You note that you "counter it with positive comments from Israeli filmaker [sic] Dan Katzir," as if he is the only source of a positive response. I see this as a personal agenda: Those "terrible" Arabs are against this initiative while "reasonable" Israelis support it. That is the subtext of your story and clearly your intent, proven by the fact that you chose Katzir for a counter but skipped the blogs you used as your source … and they were all praising it. You made not one mention of this. In closing Ms. Eglash, you chose to dredge up the negative, draft a bogus, misleading headline and paint Arabs as troublemakers. There is no journalistic integrity in this.