by: Henry I. Silverman
This article 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
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
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.