Exchange of Correspondence with Reuters AlertNet, Regarding the Biased Activities and Agendas of Its NGO Members and "Content Partners"
By NGO Monitor
March 12, 2006
Summary: NGO Monitor identified Reuters AlertNet as a major media outlet for highly politicized NGOs that promote the 2001 Durban strategy directed against Israel, including, in some cases, divestment and boycott campaigns. NGO Monitor requested information from AlertNet regarding the criteria by which three hundred "contributing organizations" and other NGO "content partners" are accepted and also asked that NGO Monitor analyses of these organizations be published on the AltertNet site. These NGOs, (some of which are highly politicized and biased), provide information on humanitarian needs and background to the conflict, shaping the way relief organizations and the media approach the subject. Megan Rowling of Reuters Alertnet rejected NGO Monitor's request, stating that "the political arena in which you/we operate is very sensitive," She failed to acknowledge that this political arena is identical for the NGOs whose reports and activities are publicized, resulting in a glaringly biased publication. Editor Mark H. Jones, then argued that NGO Monitor does not fulfill logistical criteria for content partnership. The correspondence continues.
Reuters AlertNet describes itself as:
The above-mentioned three hundred contributing NGOs, include Christian Aid , Caritas, and World Vision, who regularly engage in demonization and anti-Israel bias, erase the context of terrorism and attack Israel rather than pursuing purely humanitarian goals. They also promote boycott and divestment campaigns or are allied with groups (such as Sabeel) that do so. Other members include Oxfam, ANERA, MSF and Save the Children, whose political activities under the guise of humanitarian aid have been extensively documented by NGO Monitor.
AlertNet also includes content provided by "Content Partners", described on the AlertNet website as:
At the request of member charities, who would like relevant news sources to be aggregated by AlertNet, we aim to create a network of contributors who have valuable content but do not fulfill the membership criteria. These organizations are known as 'content partners' who, while not receiving any of the member benefits, make use of the AlertNet channel to give their content a wider audience.
The "content partners" include technical sources, such as TropicalStormRisk.com, as well as highly politicized NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, another powerful NGO with a consistently biased political agenda.
The following is the correspondence to date between NGO Monitor and Reuters AlertNet.
To: Mark H. Jones
Dear Mr. Jones,
Re: Reuters Alertnet Content Partners
NGO Monitor, the organization I represent, would like to request to be a "Content Partner" on Reuters Alertnet.
NGO Monitor generates and distributes critical analysis and reports on the output of the international NGO community for the benefit of government policy makers, journalists, philanthropic organizations and the general public. The organization publicizes distortions of human rights issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and provides information and context for the benefit of NGOs working in the Middle East.
We hope this will lead to an informed public debate on the role of humanitarian NGOs.
You may find more information at: http://www.ngo-monitor.org/ngo-monitor/objectives.htm.
Please let me know how we may proceed. Thank you very much.
Dear Mr. Jones,
I wrote to you Nov 7th regarding NGO Monitor serving as a "Content Partner" with Reuters Alertnet. (Below, please find this letter.)
NGO Monitor is a relevant news source with valuable content, and is utilized by many in the NGO community.
I would appreciate your reply, and I look forward to working together to serve the NGO community.
There are two main reasons for this:
1. While we feel that your organisation offers a valuable service, the political arena in which you/we operate is very sensitive - and as you are mainly interested in highlighting anti-Israel bias, we were concerned that if we publish your material, we risk offering a rather one-sided view. We really do have to tread very carefully in this area, so I hope you can understand this reservation.
2. We did not see adequate evidence on your site that you would be able to offer us a regular stream of material in the form of an automatic feed, which is one of our key requirements.
Please do send this to firstname.lastname@example.org, and it will be then be passed on to our journalists who may follow up with a story.
Dear Ms. Rowling,
I thank you for your response, and for your frank acknowledgement that the decision not to include NGO Monitor as a content partner is due to "political sensitivity" and a need to "tread carefully" in responding to anti-Israel bias.
However, as you will no doubt understand, we find this response deeply flawed and unacceptable.
You write that, in revealing the biases and lack of credibility of some NGO reports, NGO Monitor "offers a valuable service". Yet, in order to avoid appearing biased and one-sided, you refuse to publish the very NGO Monitor reports which highlight the biased and one-sided coverage - and instead continue to carry the biased and one-sided reports themselves. This is, to say the least, illogical, and perpetuates the abuse of the rhetoric of human rights and humanitarian norms.
If avoiding bias in reports on central humanitarian issues is at all a concern, as well it should be, Reuters AlertNet should actively seek to carry evidenced-based reports on this subject. Certainly, Reuters AlertNet should not actively avoid publishing NGO Monitor's reports detailing bias. The most basic journalistic ethics demand this.
You serve an important community, one that needs and deserves your best effort at delivering accurate information. It certainly deserves better than an intentional ignorance, or perpetuation, of biased and one-sided reporting.
You also refer in your letter to certain technical requirements. Please advise us of these requirements, as well as of the procedures and composition of the Membership Committee to which you referred.
We look forward to your prompt reply, as do the 8000 subscribers to NGO Monitor reports, and the many more Internet readers.
Subject: AlertNet Content Partnerships
I'm sorry that Megan didn't make this clear in her initial response but AlertNet does not have many content partnerships and only agrees them with groups which meet the following criteria:
Global (or at least regional) coverage of a particular issue.
Ability to supply material requested by AlertNet member charities
I don't feel that NGO Monitor meets these criteria.
Nevertheless, and as Megan suggested, we would be interested in receiving your material by email for possible use in our stories.
1. See "A Call for Morally Responsible Investment: A Nonviolent Response to the Occupation," Sabeel, Palm Sunday 2005; Felicity Arbuthnot, "Boycott Israeli outlaws," The Guardian, May 29, 2002; and Patricia Paddey, "Canadian Christian leaders warned of divestment "dangers"," Christian Week.
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