Accuracy, fairness and balance are needed in reporting on Gaza

An update on IMS’ work in Gaza, and a call for full, fair and balanced coverage of the unfolding war.

The media has always been a key player in shaping narratives around armed conflicts. The war unfolding in Gaza confirms this truth yet again.

A tide of rumours, half-truths and lies is creating intense pressure and responsibility on journalists to get the story right. As we look on in horror at the unfolding atrocities, it is of paramount importance that news media adhere scrupulously to the foundational principles of good journalism: accuracy, fairness and balance.

In practice, this means that journalists – especially those not based at the scene of the events they are reporting on – must always be open and transparent about what sources and types of information they rely on and have access to. In the case of Israel’s war on Gaza, while it is crucial that the atrocities committed by Hamas be reported and documented – as indeed is the case – it is equally important that journalists reporting on the war from outside of Gaza live up to the ideals of good journalism.

The chaos descending on Gaza will have far-reaching consequences for many years to come. The exceptionally volatile and dangerous situation makes it all the more crucial that journalists and media outlets do their utmost to provide the fullest, fairest, most balanced coverage possible.

The risks that journalists across Gaza currently face threaten their role in documenting crucial facts and shedding light on the human cost of war. According to Committee to Protect Journalists, 15 journalists, including 11 Palestinians, have lost their lives since 7 October, with more injured, missing or detained – a number that will sadly but inevitably continue to grow in the coming days and weeks.

Presently, only a handful of international news outlets have reporters in Gaza. For the same reason, I strongly urge all of those who do not have reporters on the ground to find ways of conveying independent reporting coming out of Gaza and connect with local reporters in Gaza, but also to elicit and promote the perspectives of independent experts, researchers and other voices on both sides to provide a full, fair and balanced picture of the horrors unfolding in front of our eyes.

IMS has a strong media development programme in Palestine with staff on the ground in the occupied West Bank and partners in both the West Bank and Gaza. Our staff and partners – including those in Gaza – and their families are fortunately unharmed for now. However, several journalists in the Gaza Strip have had to flee their homes and seek temporary refuge with relatives.

The situation desperately calls for balanced and fair reporting. The stakes are high, and the world is watching.