The Los Angeles Times is restricting staffers who signed a letter criticizing Israel’s military presence in Gaza from coverage of the war in the region for at least three months. Almost a dozen L.A. Times staffers signed the open letter earlier this month.
The L.A. Times has not responded to requests from TheWrap for comment.
The letter condemns Israel’s bombing of Gaza with a demand for newsrooms to use language like “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” to refer to the Israeli military operations in the region. It has been signed by more than 600 journalists.
Semafor’s Maxwell Tani first reported the news of these journalists being barred from covering the conflict, citing two people with knowledge of the situation.
The two sources told Semafor that “staffers who signed the letter have been told by the paper’s management that they will not be allowed to cover the conflict in any way for at least three months.”
The letter reads, “As reporters, editors, photographers, producers, and other workers in newsrooms around the world, we are appalled at the slaughter of our colleagues and their families by the Israeli military and government. We are writing to urge an end to violence against journalists in Gaza and to call on Western newsroom leaders to be clear-eyed in coverage of Israel’s repeated atrocities against Palestinians.”
Top editor Kevin Merida reminded staff of the company’s ethics and fairness policy, according to Semafor. The policy outlines that a “fair-minded reader of the Times news coverage should not be able to discern the private opinions of those who contributed to that coverage, or to infer that the organization is promoting any agenda.”
The letter addressed U.N. experts’ warnings of the “grave risk of genocide” for the Palestinian people, criticizing Western outlets’ refusal to quote genocide experts and report the threat approaching Gaza.
According to the letter, “the call for fair coverage” of the situation in the Middle East “has gone unanswered,” and newsrooms often “undermined Palestinian, Arab and Muslim perspectives, dismissing them as unreliable and have invoked inflammatory language that reinforces Islamophobic and racist tropes.”
The newspaper also became the first major U.S. paper to call for a ceasefire in the Gaza region in an editorial piece published Thursday afternoon.
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