HRC Prevents Publication of Inaccurate Headline in the Globe and Mail

By Mike Fegelman

February 10, 2012

Proving that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, HonestReporting Canada’s efforts to alert Globe and Mail editors to an inaccurate headline averted further incorrect reporting and subsequently framed the narrative of an important poll on Canadian attitudes on our government’s Mideast policy in the appropriate way.

HRC Prevents Publication of Inaccurate Headline in the Globe and Mail

By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director February 10, 2012

Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscribers,

We have long subscribed to the adage that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. At HRC, we place tremendous value on preventing media bias against Israel before it occurs.

Case in point: on the evening of January 31, we spotted the following inaccurate headline featured on the Globe and Mail’s website posted earlier that day:

A Patrick Martin article on a new Environics Research Group poll about Canadian attitudes on its government’s Mideast policies was given this headline: “Canadians divided over Ottawa’s pro-Israel stand, survey shows”. Yet, as Martin’s article itself pointed out, Minister’s Baird and Flaherty “can take some comfort” in the survey as “Almost half of Canadians surveyed (48 per cent) say they believe the federal government’s policy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “strikes the right balance.” The remainder as Martin points out “Almost a quarter of Canadians (23 per cent) say the government is “too pro-Israel,” while just 3 per cent say the government’s policy is “too pro-Palestinian.” The proportion of people who say they are unable to offer a clear opinion on the matter increased this year to 27 per cent (from 23 per cent).”

As Martin wrote: “… the majority of Canadians may share the government’s view toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” This statement fundamentally contradicted the Globe’s headline as the Environics poll only affirmed that Canadians are by and large united in their support for Ottawa’s pro-Israel stand.

The only “divide” that Martin’s report relayed was Canadian attitudes (for and against) the Palestinian gambit for UN statehood recognition where 35 percent support, 11 oppose, and 53 percent have no opinion.

There was no evidence to indicate that Canadian’s are divided over Ottawa’s pro-Israel stand. In reality, Canadians find their government’s Mideast foreign policy to be one that “strikes the right balance” or otherwise, they express no opinion.

HonestReporting Canada contacted senior editors at the Globe and Mail and brought this error to their attention. Commendably, Globe editors immediately amended their headline which now reads as follows:

Additionally, the next day, the Globe and Mail’s print edition featured this report with the following accurate headline:

This newly dispatched version of this article presented a more accurate narrative of this poll, namely that Ottawa’s “Israeli-Palestinian policy ‘strikes the right balance,’” and prompted subsequent reporting on CTV Powerplay, Yahoo News, and a follow up report by another Globe columnist. Regrettably, prior to the issuance of our complaint, close to 1,000 comments had already been placed on the Globe’s comment section about this article, many of who were misled by this inaccurate headline. Furthermore, Embassy Magazine relied on the Globe’s original incorrect headline in its news coverage by falsely claiming that: “Canadians (were) split on Israel”. Embassy Mag issued this clarification noticeon February 8 after we brought our concerns to their editor’s attention. Despite this obfuscating clarification, this notice serves as an important reminder to this publication that they are being vigilantly watched.

Our continued efforts to subject Canadian reporting to rigorous examination prevent distorted news coverage about Israel before it happens and when averting bias is an impossibility, HonestReporting Canada will be on the vanguard to set the record straight.


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