Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Guided Tour

ONE OF THE nice things about civilised vacations is the way tour buses pick you up from the hotel, whisk you to Pompei or the next notable pagoda, allow time to take the same pictures as everyone else and then have you back at lodgings in time for drinks, a nap and shower, drinks, dinner, with any luck a tasty one, and then a drop or two to seal the night. Guided tours aren’t cool, of course, and the tourist who aims to be reckoned a seasoned explorer will always be aware that listeners expect anecdotes that speak of an intrepid spontaneity. That your minutely scheduled schlep down the autostrada was the very essence of packaging and predictability is not to be mentioned, not if you wish to be taken for a serious traveller.

Fairfax’s Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard would seem to be well aware of this convention and determined to honour it. Late last week, the Palestinian Authority sent tame reporters a notice that a further insight into Zionist perfidy would be available on Monday, October 15. All they need do was report to the front steps of Jerusalem’s Ambassador Hotel at 9am, where the Hebrew Horror tour bus would be waiting.

Pollard appears to have done little more than present herself in order to produce her dispatch from the front lines of the West Bank’s olive wars, “Israeli settlers launch assault on Palestinian agriculture”. It was not, as you might say, that her story wrote itself, rather that very little original writing was involved at all. Consider:

From the press release announcing the tour: … 39% of Aboud lands were seized by Israeli settlements, the illegal wall and bypass roads. In addition, at least 8000 olive trees were either isolated or uprooted by the settlement regime.

In the West Bank village of Aboud, where the Palestinian Authority's agriculture ministry said 8000 olive trees were either isolated or uprooted by Israel's security wall or the settler bypass roads and 39 per cent of its lands seized by the settlements….

Then there is this from the Guardian, whose reporter evidently caught the same bus:

Guardian (directly quoting a PLO official): In the past month alone, Israeli settlers uprooted 300 trees in al-Mughir and Turmusaya villages, cut down 120 trees in Nablus, destroyed 100 olive saplings and 60 vine trees in al-Khader village, uprooted 40 trees in Ras Karkar, and assaulted and hospitalised three Palestinian farmer and injured one other

Pollard (indirectly quoting):
Settlers uprooted 300 trees in al-Mughir and Turmusaya villages, cut down 120 trees in Nablus, destroyed 100 olive saplings and 60 vine trees in al-Khader village, uprooted 40 trees in Ras Karkar and assaulted at least four Palestinian farmers, three of whom had to be taken to hospital, the Palestinian Authority reported

The Guardian and Pollard both feature the same interview with the same unhappy olive farmer, and an identical quote about his picking season no longer lasting until Christmas.

Is this the way journalism works? You get on the bus, allow yourself to be taken for a ride and then produce exactly what is expected?

Fairfax Media stock closed at 37.5 cents today, which must be very close to what savvy investors rate as the company’s break-up value. As to its journalism, mostly it is not worth two cents.


  1. Pollard has been feeding the chooks at the SMH with this ProPali mash for quite a while now. Reminds me of the ABC's reporters, who for the duration of their time there have nothing bad to say about the Palis, and nothing good to say about Israel.
    The left need to be reminded often that (i) the left bank was taken from Israel by force by Jordan and was reclaimed in 1967, and (ii) that Jordan is populated in the vast majority by So-called Palestinians. It is thesecond state. There need be no other, and all this bullshit about a two state solution is going nowhere.

  2. The Old and Unimproved DaveOctober 18, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    Oh c'mon, Professor....two cents, rather than twenty ?

    If ever there was a two-bit newspaper, it's the Age.

  3. Yesterday Fewfacts Meeja ran the following:
    (1) The Jew-baiting piece referred to above;
    (2) The aptly named Peter Craven mounting a spirited defence of Slippery Pete the Mussel-Man
    (3) Betty Farrelly recycling that recurring wet-dream of the Green-Left ... "all my left voting friends want Turnbull as Coalition leader"

    Meanwhile down at the Stock Exchange, the Fewfacts share price was doing a passable impression of Felix Baumgartner (the new world freefall sky-dive champion)

    The Irish Lion

  4. The tour must have been cut short as there is no mention of the "rocket launcher farms" so successfully cultivated in the Palestinian territory. Shalom.

    1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.October 18, 2012 at 1:30 PM

      My (limited) experience of tours in foreign climes is that the tour guide gives a patter that later reading shows to have been highly inaccurate and you never get to see anything that might reflect poorly on the narrative being spun by the guide who hopes to keep the customers coming due to its success so far.

      This journos' tour sounds very familiar in all of these things, even worse because it's a freebie. They are certainly getting what they paid for.

  5. The Guardian is in the same financial trouble as Fairfax. I guess when you are going broke this is the standard of journalism they serve up. Thanks to the internet we can now recognise junk journalism and junk journalists. It's interesting that around the world the media in most trouble are those furthest to the Left.

    Pedro of Adelaide

  6. Hilarious!
    Was watching the Gruen Transfer last night (can be OK if you tune out the host and the $1m per annum Irish Social Warrior).
    They played an advert for The Australian from 30 years ago and commented about how ‘old-fashioned’ it was. Well, duh! It is from 1982 after all. Between laughing at his own jokes (someone has to) the host managed to fire the obligatory ABC snipe at the Oz.
    They then played an advert for the SMH from last year, which the advertising gurus all agreed was ‘rubbish’ and one of them made the most telling comment of all … “they are advertising to themselves”.
    How very Fairfax to be drinking their own bathwater!
    They then played a very long and tedious advert for the Guardian which the fan-club thought was “brilliant” until one of them pointed out that the Guardian was still circling the plug-hole at ever-increasing speed.

    The Irish Lion

  7. And that scurrilous article on BoltA earlier this year has earned the Farefacts Meeja a whack over the knuckles from the APC.

  8. The actual cutters of certain trees can be disputed - just like everything else in this part of the world eg

    No young George Washingtons stepping forward to admit responsibility as yet.

    1. Shouldn't that be Mohammed Al Washington? Not too many Georges in that part of the world. Nonny you can put a name to your posts by going to the Select profile button, clicking on Name/URL and putting any name you choose, even Nonny, in. You then become an individual apart from the teeming tribe of other Nonnies. L'chaim.

  9. I don't trust anything the media reports about Israel. The journalists and photographers are taken by their "tour guides" (Hamas, Hezbollocks, etc.) to see set piece propoganda pieces, nothing more. Some of the actors in these propoganda exercises become stars in their own right; the Green Helmet Guy in Lebanon (now in Gaza) who turns up with a truck load of dead children as props for the photographers has become a celebrity, another is the crying woman in Beruit who was standing in front of demolished buildings wailing for the photographers, it appears she owned half of the real estate in Beruit.

    The western media is complicit in this disinformation exercise. Either the jounalists are anti-semitic or they are too cowardly to do a proper investigative job.