A new report tracks workplace retaliation against pro-Palestinian media workers.

Brittany Allen

May 9, 2024, 2:02pm

For some months, members of the Freelance Solidarity Project and the National Writers Union (NWU) have been tracking, compiling and verifying incidents of retaliation against media workers who’ve expressed open support (or merely been perceived as supporting) Palestine.

A full report on these efforts was published this week. It’s titled, “Red Lines: Retaliation in the media industry during the war on Gaza.”

This opens the report:

Since Hamas’s attack on October 7 and Israel’s subsequent military operations in Gaza, leaders of Western media companies and cultural institutions have acted to suppress the speech of media workers who seek to elevate Palestinian voices or express concern about Israel’s human rights violations. The National Writers Union (NWU) has compiled and verified 44 cases of retaliation that occurred between October 7, 2023 and February 1, 2024, which have affected more than 100 people.

In a summarizing blog post for the NWU, Elena Novak observed:

This is a first-of-its-kind effort to document a pattern of retaliation against Western media workers as well as the implications of the phenomenon for media coverage of the ongoing bombardment of Gaza. The report…draws on data compiled from two NWU-administered surveys as well as news reports and social media posts.

Per the report’s scope, its authors define professional retaliation as “any action taken by a venue, outlet, organization, or group that has negatively affected a media worker, and that was triggered by a perception that the worker’s speech and/or actions supported the Palestinian cause or criticized the government of Israel.” In effect, this can look like suspension, termination, harassment, social media censorship, the cancelling of speaking events, and assignment restriction.

But retaliation affects more than the media workers. As Novak observes:

Testimony from impacted media workers highlights the ways that such retaliation is affecting coverage of what might be the most important geopolitical event in at least a decade. It also highlights the ways in which retaliation is a labor rights issue.

Though the FSP-NWU report does not claim to be comprehensive, it’s plausible that its results hint at a systemic phenomenon. You might not be surprised, for instance, to learn that the report finds retaliation disproportionately targets workers of color“particularly workers of Middle Eastern or North African descent and those who identify as Muslim.”

This news all comes (ironically, grimly) on the heels of World Press Freedom Day. Which there is obviously no cause to celebrate this year, as Western media workers face silencing (and in some cases, violence, as they cover campus protests). And Palestinian journalists continue to be incarcerated, injured, and killed in record numbers by the Israeli military.

For more on all of this, find the full report here.

And here’s a comprehensive gloss on its findings, from journalist Tanvi Misra.

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