Terrorism becomes a matter of opinion at Nine newspapers
7 December 2023, The Australian, by Sophie Elsworth
Editors at The Sydney Morning Herald disputed references to Hamas’s mass rapes and killing of children on October 7 in an opinion column and demanded changes to align with its editorial position that the terror group’s crimes have not been fully proven, a freelance arts writer says.
Ariela Bard, who has written a column in The Australian, submitted an article to the Nine Entertainment masthead last week after attending a Sydney Theatre Company opening night which was hijacked by an actor-led pro-Palestine protest.
“The piece unpacked the climate of anti-Semitism in Australia since October 7,” she said in her latest column. “The Herald wanted the piece with some edits.”
Bard alleged she was told by staff at the SMH, which is led by editor Bevan Shields, that changes needed to be made to her column otherwise it would not be published.
Bard says in her column in The Australian that she was told by SMH staff that she needed to abide by the paper’s “editorial line” when discussing crimes committed in Israel.
“In addition, in keeping with their editorial line, the word rape (used in the context of the October 7 massacre) needed to be prefaced with the words ‘alleged’ or ‘considerable, or, mounting evidence of’,” she wrote.
She told The Australian: “I felt confronted that with all of the available evidence from eyewitnesses and paramedics of rape and extreme sexual violence that there were organisations still asking for more proof.
“They still require more evidence … of shattered pelvises and partially or completely or unclothed women with clear signs of having been brutally raped.”
Reports of witness accounts of sexual violence by Hamas terrorists have circulated internationally.
She was also told to clarify that the October 9 rally outside the Sydney Opera House where pro-Palestinian supporters chanted “gas the Jews” was “disputed” and she could not write it as fact.
“I mentioned the October 9 rally outside the Sydney Opera House, in which a group of men were heard chanting ‘Gas the Jews,’ she writes.
“The Herald returned to let me know the chant was ‘disputed’. I was, at the time, unaware that the chant was anything but fact.”
Videos of the Opera House rally include people yelling “gas the Jews” and “f..k the Jews”.
The matter remains under police investigation. Bard, 44, said she refused to make the edits and instead “pulled the piece”.
Shields was contacted about the matter but declined to comment.
More than 300 journalists including from Nine, the ABC and Guardian, have signed a document which calls for Australian newsrooms to treat unverified information from the democratically elected government of Israel and terror organisation Hamas both with “professional scepticism” and also declare that the current conflict “did not start on October 7.”
Nine’s editorial leadership team, including Shields, The Age editor Patrick Elligett, national editor David King and executive editor Tory Maguire, responded by banning any reporters who signed it from reporting on the conflict.
The Age was also forced to amend an article about a Melbourne vigil held after attendees claimed female advocacy groups failed to show solidarity with Israeli women who had been attacked.
It stated: “Federal Liberal senator Sarah Henderson said Australians needed to know about and condemn ‘the rape, the brutality, the kidnapping, the torture and the murder’, without citing examples.”
The Age received complaints about the remark that Senator Henderson did not cite examples.
Senator Henderson told The Australian: “Given the vigil was held to call out the silence over atrocities committed against Jewish and Israeli women by Hamas terrorists, I am disappointed that a media report sought to question these facts.”
The Age refused to comment.Article link: https://todayspaper.theaustralian.com.au/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=4274b14b-0eb5-4ca0-ae42-fb1a5c418187
Article source: The Australian | Sophie Elsworth | 7.12.23