CTV Guilty of Picture Abuse

They say a picture speaks a thousand words and it’s true in many ways. The media thrives in a world where people would prefer to see rather than read. Thrives…and also abuses.

CTV (a leading Canadian television station) visited Ma’ale Adumim in February, 2017. Maale Adumim is located about 5 kilometers to the east of Jerusalem on land that was captured from Jordan after they attacked Israel (again). Jordan attacked the newly declared State of Israel in May, 1948 and seized the Old City of Jerusalem and land to the east up to the Jordan River, where their country’s border was. They held that land for 19 years, during which time, they denied Jews the right to pray on the Temple Mount (or even to visit the Old City).

In 1967, Syria and Egypt made plans to attack Israel. They closed the Straits of Tiran – a clear violation of international law and powered up the rhetoric about how they were going to destroy tiny Israel. If the world didn’t believe them, Israel did. In a lightning fast preemptive attack on June 6, Israel took on Syria and Egypt on our terms rather than theirs. We also sent a clear message to Jordan through international channels. We had no intention of engaging them in battle, they were told.

Jordan chose to attack and, like their Syrian and Egyptian brothers, were quickly defeated. The land Jordan seized in 1948 was captured by Israel, including the land on which Ma’ale Adumim was built.

A few weeks ago, CTV came and spent four hours looking and filming. Their broadcast was carefully edited to focus not on the city they came to see, but on the agenda they were determined to show. I was asked to escort them around and carefully answered each of their questions. Their agenda was clear; the result predictable. The final report was nothing less than a hatchet job in which they carefully edited my detailed explanations into single sentences intended to introduce the reporter’s monologue representing their agenda.

But Israellycool readers may be interested to see yet another instance of picture abuse. In the opening remarks made by their well-known broadcaster, a picture was displayed. From the start, I knew it was not anything I had shown them and I was pretty sure it wasn’t even Maale Adumim.

That little picture up on the right bothered me for days. Finally, I opened Google¬†and searched “Israeli settlements”.

“How obvious,” I thought, “how amazingly pathetic.” Within a second I found the picture. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t taken in Ma’ale Adumim, but in Modi’in Illit – some 50 kilometers away. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t taken in 2017…or 2016…or 2015, or 2014, or 2013, and not even in 2012.

The picture has been used (and abused) dozens of times – from a Swedish newspaper to Peace Now to CTV. The journalists, Paul Workman and Orly Halpern, wanted to see building in Ma’ale Adumim and made comments about attributing it to the change in the relationship between Israel and the US now that Donald Trump is president.

They were able to see a grand total of 9 buildings that we started over a year ago (no connection to Donald Trump’s election, obviously) and of course showcased these buildings to justify the “controversial expansion” they decided existed in Maale Adumim.

It’s true that a picture can speak a thousand words and that the media knows this and will attempt to use pictures for this very purpose. But when the thousand words are inaccurate, it falls to the consumer to remember that not all reporters are ethical; not all television agencies worthy of the trust we all too often put in them.

A Canadian citizen saw the broadcast and contacted me and has filed a complaint with the Canadian Broadcasting agency; as have I wrote up the full story on my personal blog, A Soldier’s Mother as well. Finally, Honest Reporting in Canada is taking up the complaint as well. None of us have much hope of things changing.

But times have changed and now ordinary people have a voice. Through social media – twitter, blogs such as the one I write, and news sites such as this one, we are slowly holding the media accountable. Workman and CTV may have gotten the first picture in; but the final word is not theirs, not anymore.


Paula R. Stern

Paula R. Stern is the CEO of WritePoint Ltd, a leading technical writing company in Israel. She is also a popular blogger with her work appearing on her own sites, A Soldier's Mother and PaulaSays, as well as IsraellyCool and a number of other Jewish and Israeli sites.