Hamas journalists raise (and answer) a classic question of journalistic ethics.
The other day, I wondered whether younger folks have any sense of how long-standing is the problem of the huge gray area between journalists within the Palestinian territories (and elsewhere in the Middle East) and the terrorist organizations they’re covering. Whether or not they’re more like terrorist propagandists is a gray area the terrorists have long manipulated.
The topic is now front and center, with images around social media of an AP reporter hugging Hamas leaders and apparently speeding toward the October 7 massacre with a grenade in his hand. Personally, I’m sympathetic with those who see no moral doubt on the point, but it is a classic question of journalist ethics that people debate (or used to debate, anyway). If you’re a journalist embedded with a militant faction and learn that they are planning an attack, should you warn the other side?
The question seems more difficult when it comes to official militaries in a declared war, because that’s much more clearly documenting the blundering trail of history. Everybody involved understands it’s a contest of killing and destruction, and the world, writ large, has an interest in increasing documentation, not the least so that the rules of war, such as they are, can be maintained over time. Everybody has an interest in the factions’ willingness to give journalists access.
In this case, though, with terrorists heading toward civilian areas on the way to a massacre of civilians, complete with rape and baby beheadings, the moral question evaporates, especially when the monsters were content to document it themselves. There’s no excuse that doesn’t have the “journalist” counted among the terrorists.