Reuters: Principles Of Trust Or Propaganda?

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Henry I. Silverman


Reuters, Journalism, Propaganda, Bias, Ethics, Corporate Governance, Israel, Palestinian Arabs, Ethnographic Content Analysis


This paper examines a sample of fifty news-oriented articles related to the Middle East conflict published on the Reuters proprietary websites across a three month study window. A combination of Ethnographic Content Analysis and primary survey data are employed to identify, code and validate reporting/ethical failures in the articles, i.e., propaganda, logical fallacies, and violations of the Reuters Handbook. Tests are run to measure for 1) shifts in audience attitudes and support for the primary belligerent parties in the Middle East conflict following readings of the sample and, 2) associations between the reporting/ethical failures and audience attitudes/support. Over 1,100 occurrences of reporting/ethical failures across forty-one subcategories are identified and a significant shift in audience attitudes and support following article readings is observed. Significant associations are found between 1) the use of atrocity propaganda and audience favorability/sympathy toward the Arabs/Palestinians; 2) the use of the appeal to pity fallacy and audience favorability/sympathy toward the Arabs/Palestinians; and 3) the use of atrocity propaganda, appeal to pity and appeal to poverty fallacies, and audience motivation to take supportive action on behalf of the Arabs/Palestinians. It is inferred from the evidence that Reuters engages in systematically biased storytelling in favor of the Arabs/Palestinians and is able to influence audience affective behavior and motivate direct action along the same trajectory. This reflects a fundamental failure to uphold the Reuters corporate governance charter and ethical guiding principles.


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