This week, we learned that the Associated Press (AP) Jerusalem bureau had instructed its reporters not to quote NGO Monitor and Prof. Gerald Steinberg – a ban that was applied exclusively to us. This is not the only example of media censorship of NGO Monitor.
While NGO Monitor’s research has highlighted the media’s failure to critically examine the allegations and claims of political advocacy NGOs, this blatant censorship reveals a much deeper problem. The attempt by the AP and others to shield NGOs from legitimate criticism promotes the NGO “halo effect,” preventing these powerful groups from being held accountable.
Former AP journalist Matti Friedman disclosed the ban against NGO Monitor in
The Atlantic (What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel, Nov. 30). Friedman wrote that during his time at the AP Jerusalem bureau, reporters were told “to never quote [NGO Monitor] or its director… Gerald Steinberg. In my time as an AP writer moving through the local conflict, with its myriad lunatics, bigots, and killers, the only person I ever saw subjected to an interview ban was this professor.”
The decision to single out NGO Monitor for censure is unfortunately not surprising, andhighlights the current reality of unchecked NGO power, as well as the serious need to critically examine these groups. A key issue raised in Friedman’s article is the “ethical gray zone of ties between reporters and NGOs,” which leads to a situation where NGOs “are to be quoted, not covered.” These relationships play a central role in distorting the international narrative about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
This failure of journalistic integrity further attests to the unique importance of NGO Monitor’s mission. With your support, we will continue the vital work of providing critical analysis on influential and heavily-funded NGOs. The collaboration between media and NGOs only deepens our commitment to this vital work, despite futile attempts to silence our research and analysis.
To read more about this issue, see the Washington Post article Blacklisting of pro-Israel watchdog organization NGO Monitor by the Associated Press.