New York Times Israel bureau chief: Thick skin required

The New York Times’ bureau chief in Israel has one of the most fraught jobs in U.S. journalism. Ron Kampeas has plenty of advice for incoming chief Jodi Rudoren: Brush up on your Hebrew, but don’t be a showoff, and don’t worry too much about access since “Nobody stops talking.”

In The Jerusalem Post, Ashley Rindsberg wonders why the Times consistently sends Jewish reporters to cover Israel. It has to do with the paper’s tortured relationship with Judaism, Rindsberg decides.

If you have some time for a long read, Neil Lewis digs way in on that last point. He gets great quotes from people all around that job through the years (“The Times correspondent lives in a house that is, in effect, like an embassy,” former Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent Tom Hundley told Lewis. “And the correspondent is, in some ways, treated better than a diplomat, sometimes like royalty”). He also examines the Times’ Israel coverage since the 1960s, some 3,000 articles in all, and through that exegesis finds the paper’s coverage “has remained largely in the journalistic ‘middle’ throughout the decades. But that middle shifted,” he writes, due to a couple of factors, not least increased reporting on Palestinians.

Welcome to reporting on reporting on Israel, Mr. Lewis: “Just about everyone who covers the Middle East on the ground for a major western news organization other than the Times,” reads the first comment, “would agree that the Times has had some of the most disgraceful coverage of Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank; that the Times’ coverage of the region carries such an obscenely pro-Israel slant, that its typically superior standards of objectivity, neutrality, and nuanced international reporting fall by the wayside when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians.”

“The Columbia Journalism Review has a lengthy ‘analysis’ of the New York Times’ coverage of Israel, most of which is excuses and explanations as to why their coverage is so biased,” writes Carl in Jerusalem. Good luck, Ms. Rudoren.

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  • Anonymous

    “The New York Times’ bureau chief in Israel has one of the most fraught jobs in U.S. journalism.”
    The use of “fraught” by itself has become common as writers turn to it as a catchall for “kind of messed up and complicated or something.