Israel's flag flying atop Masada.
Israel's flag flying atop Masada.

Study Reveals Major Failings in New York Times Coverage of Israel

Jerusalem, Israel, 5 February, 2023 – Throughout 2022, Israeli author and Ma’ariv journalist, Lilac Sigan, monitored the daily coverage of Israel in The New York Times along with the actual events in Israel, as part of a yearly study with leading International Communication and Public Diplomacy expert Professor Eytan Gilboa of Bar-Ilan University. 

The aim of the research was to focus on the way a leading and influential international media outlet portrays Israel, especially during a year in which a diverse and liberal government was in place – one which included an Arab-Israeli party for the first time in history. 

The results of the unique study, which analyzes patterns of both coverage and omissions of information, show a clear anti-Israeli bias in the New York Times on both levels. The report points to the 53% negative coverage of Israel throughout the year, and also to the consistent omission of information regarding threats that Israel faced.  

After concluding her research, Ms. Sigan approached the newspaper with the research summary for publication, but it declined to publish an opinion piece explaining the study and main findings. 

The New York Times, which has a print circulation of around 750,000 in the US, and 8.6 million paid subscribers to its digital edition platform in addition to millions more readers online and in print, is one of the twenty most popular in the world.  

Sigan selected The New York Times because, in her words, it is ‘the most important news outlet in the world, with a long-standing reputation for professionalism. That’s why the findings are so disturbing.’ 2022 was a year of particularly heavy coverage of Israel within its pages, while terror and threats that Israel faces were neglected. 

Among the report’s main findings: 

  • Terrorist organizations did not receive adequate coverage: Hezbollah was mentioned in only 4 headlines throughout the year (of which 1 was negative), Hamas in 2 headlines (of which 1 was negative).  
  • The proportions are even worse when it comes to opinion and politics: 20 negative opinion articles were directed against Israel from January 2022 until today, compared to 13 articles against Iran, where the nuclear project is thriving and massive human rights protests broke out in the past year. 
  • During January through October Israel received 51% negative coverage. In the months of November-December (since the elections but before the formation of the new government), a sharp increase was recorded: 68% of the coverage of Israel was negative. 
  • National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir – who was indeed convicted in the past for supporting a terrorist organization – was referred to 20 times along with the word “terrorist” during 2022. However, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar had only 2 such references, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah – not even one. 

Additional data: 

  • According to the data of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet), in 2022 there were more than 2,600 attacks in Israel, out of which 204 were defined as significant attacks. In contrast, the New York Times claimed in an article that was published at the end of December and again in January that there were only 5 significant attacks in Israel.  
  • The New York Times also claimed that most of the Palestinians killed during 2022 were non-involved citizens, while IDF data shows the majority to have been combatants. 
  • The news outlet dedicated 24 articles to the accidental killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank, compared to 16 articles dedicated to all of the other journalists that were killed around the world in the line duty in 2022.  In total, 65 journalists were killed, 15 of them in Ukraine, most of whose deaths went unreported. 
  • The words “Hamas” and “terrorist organization” appeared together in New York Times articles only 13 times during the year. The words “Israel” and “apartheid” appeared together 39 times, although Israel is not an apartheid state and Hamas is a terror organization, officially, according to the US State Department, as well as Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, and the UK.  

The study results are being published in parallel with ADL reports that show that the number of Americans holding antisemitic beliefs has doubled since 2019; with Jewish Agency reports that show a 50% rise in antisemitic incidents on American university campuses since the beginning of the academic year; and the Jewish Federation surveys that show antisemitic violence has stabilized on the peak figures of 2021. 

Prof. Eytan Gilboa: “This is an important and unique study – it collects data about the coverage of Israel in the most important news outlet in the world and analyzes them, and also collects data about events and background facts that reporters and editors omit, causing mistakes, bias and distortion”. 

Lilac Sigan: “After the Ben & Jerry’s saga, I decided to commit to following NYT coverage of Israel for one whole year. What I found was gloomy and disturbing. Apart from the immediate effect on the image and status of Israel, the coverage continuously distorts the reality in Israel and in the region, in a way that affixes a false perception for future generations. This effects Israel’s ties with large parts of the American public, and especially with American Jews. The reader receives only partial facts from the news outlet, which paints a dark and monochromatic picture. This is disturbing, distorting and dangerous.” 

About Staff

They call me "NewsHound IV," because I'm a clever Finnegan, sniffing out stories all over the Boulder area. I love Jewish holidays because the food is GREAT, especially the brisket. Well all the food. I was a rescue pup and glad to be on the scent!

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One comment

  1. Mark J Loewenstein

    Not surprising. It would have been interesting to see seaprate data on opinion pieces (both editorials and op-eds) during the period.