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Update – 20 June 2012

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Posted by Emily Gian on 20 June 2012 at 2:35pm:

I have just returned to the office after some leave time and, as usual, my desk is piled high with newspapers. The headlines from yesterday’s papers catch my eyes: “Fairfax to shrink jobs, newspapers” (The Age), “Fairfax downsizes its future” (The Australian), and this inspired one from The Australian Financial Review, “Fairfax spearheads digital age”. I am not sure if Fairfax can actually claim in June 2012 to be spearheading anything in the digital media age, but the situation that the media company has found itself in reminds me, obviously not for the first time, that newspapers have a shrinking role in delivering us the news. Not exactly a revolutionary thought, I know but one feels for those who will lose their jobs as a result.

A similar shake up is being mooted at News Limited.

Then there was last night’s earthquake in Melbourne. I was out for dinner at the time and we received a text message asking if we had just felt it. We hadn’t, and had no idea what the message was even talking about. I pulled out the iPhone and went to the Age website. Nothing. News Limited. Nothing. Twitter – abuzz with posts about the tremor felt. Facebook – every status update seemed to be asking the same question “did anyone else just feel the earth move?” It took probably half an hour for the internet versions of our newspapers to update their websites with a story (the earthquake memes were coming through quicker). In a world of digital media, where anyone can be a virtual “reporter”, even the digital editions of our newspapers were lagging behind, and in this instance, were certainly not “spearheading” anything.

This brings me to general reports on world news, and in particular, reporting on Israel.

It seems that nothing changes.

For those who may not be aware, as it did not appear the Australian media, a terror attack was recently carried out on Israel’s border with Egypt. Two Israelis working on a security fence between Egypt and Israel were wounded, with Said Fashapshe, a father of four from Haifa, later dying of his wounds. According to MFA, “a terrorist cell operating out of the Gaza Strip set off an explosive device on the on the Philadelphi strip near the southern border with Israel and fired an RPH rocket at a team of Defense Ministry employees who were working on the construction of the border fence”. Perhaps not so ironically, the fence has been designed to stop terrorism and infiltrators (see more).

I checked our local newspapers yesterday to see if they had perhaps reported on the incident, despite knowing that stories such as this one ceased to be “newsworthy” in our local press a long time ago. There was nothing. I then thought that perhaps the story had come through after the paper had gone to print, but there was nothing online either.

And then this morning I woke to the news (on twitter) that over 40 missiles had been fired indiscriminately at Israel from Gaza by Palestinian terror cells. Four of those rockets were fired by Hamas, the “democratically elected” ruling party in Gaza and the proposed partner with the PA in some future Palestinian “unity government” (see more).

Until this news, Hamas has of late been avoiding direct association or responsibility for firing the rockets on Israel, but who would put any faith in an organisation that took over Gaza in a bloody coup, that consistently murders and tortures their own people for “collaborating”, offers no real freedom of press or at the least, basic human rights?

Four Israeli Border Guards were injured in the rocket fire. Sources said that “a wide range of retaliatory actions are under review” and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino stated that “I hope [the violence] won’t expand, but we are preparing for the possibility that it may reach the larger and fire distant cities” (see more).

None of this has been reported by Fairfax Media, and it saddens me that rocket fire from terrorist groups which attacks civilian targets (and is therefore a war crime) is not considered newsworthy and has become so “normal” that it does not even warrant a “news in brief” in the world news sections of newspapers.

Of course, there are many stories that our international correspondents regularly ignore, such as this one which I came across on Friday about clashes between the Lebanese Army and two Palestinians in a refugee camp in North Lebanon, which led to the death of one resident of the camp and eight more injured. Apparently, the violence has escalated and there have been more deaths but perhaps, since there was not an Israeli in sight, the story might have been put on the shelf. Unlike when Israel decided to cut down a tree on its side of the border with Lebanon back in August 2010. That incident certainly did make the news (see more)!

No doubt, when Israel responds to the missile fire, the media will finally step in.

Please join us tonight for a talk by Major General (Res.) Elazar Stern at 8pm at Beth Weizmann Community Centre (see more). And please mark 11 July in your calendars as Akiva Hamilton, an ex-pat Australian lawyer working for Shurat HaDin – Israel’s Law Center, will be addressing the community.

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