Powered byWebtrack Logo


To get maximum benefit from the ICJS website Register now. Select the topics which interest you.

6068 6287 6301 6308 6309 6311 6328 6337 6348 6384 6386 6388 6391 6398 6399 6410 6514 6515 6517 6531 6669 6673

Saying Goodbye is Hard to Do

For more than five years Ed O'Loughlin was Fairfax's Middle East Correspondent, filing for both The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. His farewell piece appeared in The Age but was missing from the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald. Why?

And now to the strange case of the article that Sydneysiders didn't get to read.

Wars between Worlds

As Ed O'Loughlin's five years as Middle East correspondent comes to an end, he reflects on his time covering one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

— The Age, Wars between Worlds, 10th May, 2008

Read Ed O'Loughlin's article "Wars between worlds".

That full page article appeared in The Age on Saturday May 10. For more than five years, Ed O'Loughlin was Fairfax's correspondent in the Middle East. He's an Irishman, who recently decided it was time to go home. He reported for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and filed his farewell piece to both papers. Yet not a word of the story was printed in the SMH.

We tracked O'Loughlin down in Dublin, and asked if he was surprised.

Yes I was very surprised. It was filed several days in advance and cleared through all the usual channels. It was pulled at the last minute, I understand, by the editor Alan Oakley. It's the first time in five and a half years that I've had a piece spiked.

— Statement from Ed O'Loughlin (Journalist) to Media Watch

A bit of background. The Middle East - and particularly, the sixty-year-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians - is arguably the toughest assignment a reporter can get. Passions run high; events, present and past, are interpreted utterly differently by each side. And every word you file will be scrutinised for perceived bias and error by your readers.

Ed O'Loughlin's reporting has copped a lot of criticism - from one quarter in particular.

Michael Danby

…there's nothing funny about O'Loughlin's systematic bias against Israel, which is indeed both intellectually lazy and politically intemperate.

— The Australian Jewish News, Sullying a fine reputation, 14th September, 2007

Read Michael Danby's article "Sullying a fine reputation".

Media Matters
Tzvi Fleischer

Fairfax Middle East correspondent Ed O'Loughlin is obviously a talented journalist who brilliantly distorts facts and substitutes opinions for news.

— The Australian Jewish News, A brilliant example - of bad journalism, 4th May, 2007

Read Tzvi Fleischer's article "A brilliant example - of bad journalism".

And much, much more, going back years. And the criticism wasn't confined to print. There have been direct meetings with Fairfax management, too. For example, a letter about O'Loughlin's reporting in the Australian Jewish News in February tells us:

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies has made firm representations in person to the editor and his team at The Sydney Morning Herald about the above issues…

David D Knoll
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies

— Letter from David Knoll to the Australian Jewish News, 29th February, 2008

Read David Knoll's letter to the Australian Jewish News.

This kind of pressure can wear journalists - and editors - down. But as Ed O'Loughlin told me:

There has been an intensive lobbying effort to skew the Herald and The Age to a pro-Israeli position and I've had nothing but support until now. That's why I'm surprised that they pulled my final piece.

— Statement from Ed O'Loughlin (Journalist) to Media Watch

There's no doubt that Ed O'Loughlin spent a lot of time reporting sympathetically on the plight of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. He called the story as he saw it - and he seldom saw the Israeli Defence Force in a favourable light. His farewell feature, though more personal than his normal news reports, was no different.

...the Israeli Defence Force's culture of denial and impunity, repeatedly condemned by Israeli and foreign rights groups, does nothing for your confidence when you have reason to fear that someone you can't see is studying you on a computer screen, or through a gun sight.

— The Age, Wars between worlds, 10th May, 2008

So, does Ed O'Loughlin know why Herald editor Alan Oakley decided at the 11th hour to pull that piece?

I was told informally that there were concerns about how the pro-Israel lobby would react to it.

— Statement from Ed O'Loughlin (Journalist) to Media Watch

Other sources at the Herald have told Media Watch the same thing. The editor, naturally enough, has not. He said:

I never discuss why something is or isn't published, suffice to say it's called editing and it happens daily.
I don't discuss the performance of individual journalists in a public forum; I find it more constructive to talk to them.

— Email from Alan Oakley (Editor, Sydney Morning Herald) to Media Watch

Read Alan Oakley's response to Media Watch's questions.

But Alan Oakley hasn't talked to Ed O'Loughlin:

I've had no communication from Alan explaining his decision.

— Statement from Ed O'Loughlin (Journalist) to Media Watch

Of course, editors have a right to edit. But it seems a poor reward for five years of full time service in a dangerous and taxing patch for a correspondent to have his final feature spiked, without explanation. And arguably it sends an unfortunate message, both to his critics - and to his successor, The Age's respected Jason Koutsoukis.  

# reads: 488

Original piece is

Printable version


Articles RSS Feed


Tell us what you think

Whilst I agree that ABC bias needs to be addressed, it isn't for the few Jews who work there to risk their jobs to do it. It's not their ABC, it's ours. Our taxes pay for it, and our representatives in the Senate have oversight on what it does ... so it is up to each and every one of us to contact our reps and try to influence them to introduce balance to the ABC. If Philip Lasker etc were to tackle the problem, I would expect them too to be approaching their reps, the same as the rest of the community. It's unfair to suggest they have any greater responsibility because they work there ... it's their job, it's our ABC.

Posted by Morry on 2008-05-25 01:05:32 GMT

It's time that some considerable pressure was put on Philip Lasker, Norman Swan, Rachel Kohn, Ramona Koval and other Jews in the ABC to do something about the lamentable and obvious bias in the national broadcaster. It is a difficult job for them, and very sensitive, but surely some of you know them and their families and it is too important a matter to leave it as it is. These people have an obligation to attempt to set the situation right, to speak out in their jobs, to weather a storm, perhaps even to be whistle blowers. They are excellent people but they speak from the centre of the maelstrom. Perhaps they are the token Jews who sanitise the ABC. All our action and blogging over many years has done nothing and I, for one, am discouraged. We need to use whatever advantage we can muster in whatever way we can.

Posted by Barry Walters, Perth on 2008-05-24 17:00:48 GMT

Some truths were actually included in O'Loughlin's report. Unfortunately, he is too limited to recognize cause and effect. He writes that three IDF soldiers were "ambushed by militants" but refuses to acknowledge that that is the reason for the Israeli incursion. O'Loughlin states that Arab Palestinians "used to work in Israel but that ended when the second Intifada began." Incredibly he refused to acknowledge that Israel had to protect its people from terrorism. It's deplorable that O'Loughlin didn't have a clue that his "fixer" was not just a guide, but actually "fixed the story" to ignore Arab provocations, and view Israelis as constant aggressors. Saying "goodby" to O'Loughlin is not enough, it is really "good riddance."

Posted by Roberta E. Dzubow on 2008-05-20 20:05:59 GMT

O'Loughlin fabricated details to suit his agenda. I entered a bit of correspondence with the SMH about the story he filed about a girl being shot. In the exchange every time he wrote he changed details to account for details glaringly false. He is not a talented journo, but a sneaky ideology driven propagandist.

Posted by paul2 on 2008-05-20 13:31:17 GMT

The Ed O’Loughlin’s of this world, and the ‘War of Words.’ When we talk about journalistic bias, rather than reporting the news, and the complexities of any position in the Israeli-Arab conflict, we have to know what is really meant. Here we learn some interesting issues: Mr. O’Loughlin tells us about a cameraman’s car being blown up, and the facts surrounding it, without telling us how he learns of those facts, and how he documents them. We only hear him opine about a tank that deliberates obliterates a ‘clearly marked car,’ many hundreds of meters away. Obviously, this is one of many incidents Israeli’s refuse to acknowledge or take responsibility for. How easy that is to say. This is a war zone. ‘Militants,’ a poetic term for terrorist islamist's, have captured a population. They brutalize that population, as attested to by noting that the only place where music is heard and joy to be found, is where a Christian carpenter found work as a barman, serving foreigners. Why doesn’t he ask that barman why it’s only place in Gaza where ‘people are having a good time!’ When the Arabs demand the release of over 1300 prisoners for the release of 1 single and possible dead Israeli, why is it astounding that 5 Arabs have died for every Israeli this year – especially when Israeli’s are outnumbered 40 to 1 in the Middle-east? Not that a single life lost isn’t a tragedy to that person’s family, but why aren’t we learning that the attacks on Palestinian ‘militants’ are a direct response to rockets being fired into civilian areas of Sderot and other southern Israeli cities, or terror bombing attacks on Israeli civilians? Why don’t we hear Mr. O’Loughlin asking the same Palestinians why they aren’t rebelling against, and rejecting a leadership that insists on terror against unarmed civilians, wherein Israel is required to respond in kind? Why isn’t O’Loughlin interested in the chain of violence, and the openly decalred terrorist policies of a brutal Hamas leadership? Why hasn't he asked the downtrodden Gaza Palestinians why they don’t dare to talk freely, why they don’t dare to oppose, why they don’t dare to ask ‘why are you forcing this on us?, to their leadership? It seems to me that all they want to do is work, educate their kids and have a normal life, in Gaza, like all people of the world? Why don't they rise up and demand that of their leaders? Why isn't Mr. O'Loughlin promoting their freedom, rather than their political incarceration? In the event that it’s true that a 16 year old girl and her 13 year old brother were picked off in the night by an Israeli sniper, I ask, ‘What kind of parent allows his children to run up on rooftops in the night, in a war torn area where snipers are required to prevent roof-top assassins? I find it odd that the same question didn’t occur to Mr. O’Loughlin. If Mr. O’Loughlin learned that children were dressed in dark clothing and killed, playing on the local motorway in the middle of the night, would he indict the driver of the car who hit them, or the parents who didn’t know where their children were that fateful night? And, how does one determine the age of a roof top terrorist target? Mr. O’Loughlin admits that only when 3 Israel Army personnel die, along with various Palestinians, does it become news worthy. Oddly, that the Israeli Army personnel never cluster in hiding amongst Israeli civilians, while brave Arab ‘militants,’ are always hiding and attacking from civilian shield positions seems odd to me. Using civilians as a shield seems very rational to Mr. O’Loughlin. Is it their overwhelming feeling of ‘brotherhood’ to fellow Muslims that requires ‘militants’ to hide amongst the innocent? Unfortunately, Mr. O’Loughlin admits to having grown a thick skin – a result of the inherent denials of the IDF to the condemnation of the world, making reference rhetorically to the invisible enemy, studying one through a gun sight. I can only imagine his horror at sitting at a local Tel Aviv pizza bar, or college canteen, when a brave islamist Palestinian suicide bomber, perhaps a misdirected mother of small children, will dress up like a student, disguise themselves, only to blow up as many civilian non-combatants as possible. This, it seems, Mr. O’Loughlin would not define as a hidden enemy. As an Irishman, perhaps Mr. O’Loughlin comes from a background where terror is an acceptable tool for political gains, regardless of the cost to civilian populations, and therefore can be excused as such, without critical mention. Unfortunately, I feel that the thousands of Palestinians should feel privileged to have jobs in a country which their leadership is attempting to destroy. When access to those jobs becomes endangered, I would see it as incumbent upon the citizenry to stand up and ask their leaders, ‘What the hell are you doing to us??’ It’s fairly odd that the 10 solitary sentences he devotes to Sderot, naming the 7000 rockets than have fallen there in the last 7 years – don't deserve a story for the terror, injury and fear attached to each. No, that was abandoned immediately to construct a causal relationship, wherein the Palestinians, ‘who have suffered enough,’ should be motivate Israel to accept the ‘truce’ offered by Hamas. Unfortunately, Hamas expressed this as a ‘hudna,’ which quite specifically is a period of non-combat, where you strengthen yourself in terms of arms and position, for the resumption of conflict. This is known by all islamists, aware of Mohammad’s ‘hudna’ with the Qurayish tribe, in his fight for Mecca in the 7th Century. A ‘hudna’ would only allow Hamas an undisturbed period of 6 months to re-arm, and to focus it’s brutality on a political foothold in the West Bank, to then resume hostilities thereafter. It’s so obvious to this reader than a journalist running the media errands of terrorists, will be allowed to sojourn freely amongst them. I wonder if he were so blatantly pro-Israeli, if he would be as safe in Gaza, as he is in Israel? The Palestinians are captured, without question, and yes, occupied. They live in the squalor of war torn rubble, terror and anguish after many years, oddly never having built it up, improving it’s infrastructure, schools and health system, as the Israeli’s did. They have allowed themselves to be captured by leaders who hold them, and use them, as pawns in a religious ideological vice-grip of terror, and who like many people in such a brutal regime of terror, find it impossible to break free. The Germans couldn’t, the Russians couldn’t, the Ugandans couldn’t, and tens upon tens of Islamic nations throughout the world attest to the squalor of the majority, and the riches of the few, all living under a regimes of punishment, repression, and ignorant intolerance of modernity and freedom. Once journalists no longer need the lucrative sport of the terrorist trade, seeking to use the plagued Palestinians for the sake of filling pages of biased reportage, and help the Palestinians free themselves from the policies of terror, enter the world of dialogue, and historical fact, the sooner the Palestinian people might emerge as a partner in planning peace, and co-operation as a viable neighbor of Israel.

Posted by Brian Burr on 2008-05-20 12:35:27 GMT

"Jackie Mason, the New York Jewish comic must be writing the scripts of the ABC Media Watch Program", Michael Danby, the Member for Melbourne Ports, claimed today. "Last night the ABC Media Watch program implied that a column I wrote for the Jewish News 8 months ago criticising Fairfax Middle East reporter Ed O'Loughlin was at least partially responsible for the Age spiking (censoring), the Age/SMH O'Loughlin's final column," Danby said. "This leap of logic, this vastly exaggerated claim of Jewish power is straight out of the humour of the American comedian, Jackie Mason. By using extravagant exaggeration, particularly on claims about the sinister, "all powerful Jews", Mason ridicules the paranoid excesses of such rhetoric about "Zionist lobbies", etc," Michael Danby explained. "Media Watch was unprofessional and failed to solicit my view before broadcasting the program. Perhaps it is no coincidence that I trenchantly criticised the previous Executive Producer Tim Palmer in the past. Years ago I criticised Palmer when he was former ABC Middle East correspondent for his refusal to interview Arnold Roth, the father of Malki Roth, the first Australian murdered by Palestinian homicide bombers. Roth was interviewed by practically every newspaper and broadcaster in the Western world apart from the ABC".

Posted by Ronit per M Danby on 2008-05-20 09:57:52 GMT

O'Loughlin is a bad journalist.His articles should have been prefaced with "In my opinion..."or "It would appear that..." or "A reliable Hamas source...' but as to the credibility of his facts, I would not give a brass razoo.

Posted by Danny on 2008-05-20 08:30:17 GMT

It is great to see Ed gone. Too bad it didn't happen 5 years ago.

Posted by Wazza on 2008-05-20 07:00:13 GMT

Goodbye Ed and good riddance! As George Bernard Shaw said"The Irish drink too much and think too little" Go and get drunk in Dublin Ed and leave the Jews alone

Posted by Lucy on 2008-05-20 02:58:46 GMT

And just to repeat that paragraph in O'Loughlin's article, just one example which clearly displays his bias. : "But following repeated Palestinian terrorist attacks, the new terminal was designed to eliminate even the tiniest risk of injury to Israeli personnel" . Almost inconsequential, and started with a "but". What? Not enough Israeli's dead or injured on Ed's count? How "tiny" is blown up limbs? Do terrorist attacks aim at "tiny" consequences? Let's hope his replaced with someone less biased and more willing to report facts both positive and negative from both sides.

Posted by Susie on 2008-05-20 01:24:41 GMT

"He called the story as he saw it - and he seldom saw the Israeli Defence Force in a favourable light." "His farewell feature, though more personal than his normal news reports, was no different." In short, if he hadn't believed it he wouldn't have seen it. I am vastly relieved that he has been retired to pastures/pubs of Ireland. I will look at what Jason Koutsoukis produces and may reconsider reading the AGE again. Failure to run his swansong in the SMH probably highlights the difference betwen Oakley and Jaspan rather than the powerful Jewish lobby in NSW always a convenient omnipotent omnipresence.

Posted by franita on 2008-05-20 01:04:03 GMT

It's strange that Media Watch never asked itself "Why O'Loughlin?" there are so many anti-Israeli journalists, so why single him out? Those who have actually followed his career, and have even a minimal knowledge of Middle East facts and therefore know lies from truth, know exactly why. Sometimes selective truth, sometimes changed timelines, sometimes relevant context removed, sometimes outright lies, O'Loughlin was the master propagandist, but, if a journalists job is to inform, the lousiest journalist. There is something very wrong in the field of journalism. Many years ago Jennifer Byrne, working for 60 Minutes, was sent to Gaza's only hospital, where the good doctor swept the children's ward with his hand and said "all put here by Israeli soldiers". In our own hospitals there are children's wards full of children who fell off bicycles, roofs, out of trees, or burnt themselves playing with matches .... but there is a blinding idiocy that overtakes many journalists who so badly want to believe, so Byrne never challenged the impossible, that not a single child in Gaza's hospital arrived without Israeli abuse. The reality was, on investigation, that not a single child arrived because of Israeli abuse. O'Loughlin has the same things in spades, but is more subtle. Even in his parting shot, the bulk already discredited by various bloggers, he can't resist "Israel's massive new border terminal at Erez is the sole legal crossing point for human beings trying to enter or leave the Gaza Strip". Erez is actually the "sole legal crossing point" for human beings trying to enter or leave Israel from Gaza, "sole" because the others were shut down by Hamas attacks, but there are Egyptian crossings that are perfectly legal for getting out of Gaza ... but that wouldn't give the desired impression of a prison run by Israel.

Posted by Morry on 2008-05-20 00:52:50 GMT

O'Loughlin should have been "spiked" long ago...good riddance to bad rubbish...

Posted by sandgroper on 2008-05-19 23:36:59 GMT

"He called the story as he saw it" ... I thought journalism was to present the facts objectively, not call it as you see it (that's an opinion piece).

Posted by Alan on 2008-05-19 21:58:31 GMT