Update – 23 December 2010

Posted by Emily Chrapot on 23 December 2010 at 11:38am:

Dear All,

It was only two weeks ago that Paul  McGeough of Fairfax Media was presented with what used to be a prestigious award – a Walkley.

The award was for a piece he wrote entitled ‘Prayers, tear gas and terror’, which appeared in the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald and was supposedly an eye-witness account of the flotilla incident of late May.

The Walkley judges commented that “courageous journalism, writing excellence and newsworthiness are all profoundly evident. He put himself in harm’s way to tell of the drama that unfolded in international waters. The commitment to the process and the degree of difficulty made this entry a standout” (see more).

Many observers, myself included, have a vastly different opinion about the piece and its author.

Bren Carlill of AIJAC has written a fantastic piece entitled ‘The Walkley Award for Fiction’ which exposes McGeough and the lies told in his article. He notes that McGeough has good form when it comes to writing fiction, using his creative licence for an incident in Iraq in 2004 involving the Prime Minister, 6 dead Iraqis, a police station, and the obligatory dodgy eye-witnesses.

Of course there is also McGeough’s questionable remarks about the death of a self-confessed Hamas mass murderer in Dubai which were subsequently proven false. These failings demonstrate not only McGeough’s form but the place where his sympathies lie – matters that were apparently overlooked by the Walkley judges (whoever they are!) because had they been considered McGeough would not have met the criteria for the award.

Further, I would contend that this Walkley award is even stranger than fiction. How can one be praised for being courageous when the so-called “eye-witness” accounts consisted of stories picked up second hand from (once again) questionable witnesses?

I could have done the same thing myself at home watching my TV screen or reading drivel off Facebook.

That’s courage?

There’s also the not so little matter of the IHH, the organisation behind the violence aboard the Mavi Marmara, that McGeough has continually tried to portray as an innocent charity organisation, trying to help out its mates in that boy scout movement, Hamas. Click here to read just how closely the IHH supports Hamas in the Gaza Strip. McGeough’s script is a clear and shameful cover up of the role of the terrorist thugs behind the flotilla scam.

The blinker-wearing Walkley judges ought to be ashamed of what they did to the journalistic profession in gifting an award to propaganda. I have written extensively on the body of evidence that exists against so many of McGeough’s claims and I am surprised that in light of the volume of video and pictorial evidence together with admissions from some of the terrorists and their families that they set out to provoke the violence on board the Mavi Marmara (ignored by McGeough of course), that the Walkley judges failed the research test. Their efforts are a “stand out” in incompetence.

In my eyes, there is absolutely nothing courageous about what McGeough has done, making himself the news as opposed to reporting objectively on it. And the man hardly put himself in harm’s way considering he was not even aboard the Mavi Marmara, and certainly was not close enough to report on what was happening.

But there is a consolation because the good people at Honest Reporting have recognised McGeough’s efforts for what they really are and awarded him a Dishonest Reporting Award, “The Most Undeserving of Honor”. Click here to see the Honour Roll for the Class of 2010 Dishonest Reporters.

Honest Reporting has also covered McGeough in ‘3 reasons why Paul McGeough’s flotilla coverage doesn’t deserve prestigious award’ and ‘Australians reward shoddy journalism’, where the ZCV was referenced. Please also read the ZCV Press Release on the issue. To those who enjoy their fiction writing over the holiday season, I heartily recommend that you read his reports – they make an excellent cure for the worst New Year’s hangover.

Meanwhile, in recent days, around 15 mortar shells and a rocket have hit southern Israel, though this was widely ignored by the media until Israel retaliated. A fourteen-year-old Israeli girl was wounded in one of the attacks.

Interestingly, when I checked my iPhone for the latest news this morning, I came across an article on news.com.au taken from AFP entitled ‘Israeli warplanes raid Gaza’.

The last two paragraphs of the article are most telling. It begins, ‘the raid was one of the deadliest since Israel’s December 2008 – January 2009 war on Gaza’s Hamas rulers… which cost the lives of 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 13 Israelis, 10 of them soldiers’. This constant need for the media to make some sort of a comparison between numbers, as if it would be more comfortable for them to report on the issue if more Israelis had been killed. But even worse, that the media continues to report about the mostly civilian causalities, even though Hamas itself has now admitted that the majority of their casualties were in fact militants

Honest Reporting awarded its Dishonest Reporter of the Year award to Time Magazine for their cover piece entitled ‘Why Israelis don’t care about peace’. I would argue that the guy who is firing Kassam rockets over the border at children wants peace a little less than the Israeli sipping a latte in a café in Tel Aviv. What do you think?

This will be my last piece for the year. The ZCV office will close tomorrow and will reopen on Monday 10 January 2011.

Wishing you all well over the New Year.

Best wishes,

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