SBS star Jan Fran has hit out at mainstream media and shared an old email from a news director who directed staff on how to report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Fran, whose full name is Jeanette Francis, used an Instagram post on Sunday to leak an email from SBS asking journalists to use neutral terms about the fights.
“We need to be very careful with the terminology and numbers we use in our reporting,” the email from a 2012 Israeli incursion into Gaza said.
Fran said journalists were asked not to refer to the Palestinian territories as “occupied” or “disputed,” but to simply use geographic terms.
Fran, who also presents for the ABC, hit out at the journalism industry, calling it a “malicious, biased, agenda-driven institution controlled by lobby groups”.
Jan Fran, a reporter and journalist for SBS and ABC, denounced the media’s attempts to remain “balanced” on the war between Israel and Hamas
Fran said she has seen different newsrooms conscientiously ensure that every interview on one side is balanced by airing an interview of the same length on the other with roughly the same emotional tone.
This is what “the noble pursuit of impartiality and balance in my profession looks like,” Fran writes.
“Good journalism, we are told, is impartial. It doesn’t take sides,” she said.
This shows “that both camps are complicit in the horror”.
She said the staff email makes clear that this is partly to avoid backlash, which Fran calls a “headache” for “understaffed” organizations.
“We are under close scrutiny from both sides and mistakes or perceived lack of balance will inevitably lead to a series of complaints,” the email said.
However, Fran said balance is largely sought for its own sake.
“He is fair, confident that he acts ethically in seeking fair and balanced information,” she wrote.
“He’s doing a good thing, the only thing he knows how to do.”
However, Fran accused some anonymous media outlets of being compromised.
“I don’t blame those who watch the reporting on Israel/Palestine and think that the mainstream media is a malicious and biased institution, run by agendas and controlled by lobby groups. It’s possible,” she said.
She argued that attempts to be “impartial” could even backfire, helping one side over the other.
In a lengthy post on Instagram, Fran disclosed some of the guidelines given to SBS journalists to cover the conflict.
“What if, in pursuit of these righteous ends, we obscured the truth and carried out the orders of the powerful? she asked.
She said careful reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and a U.N. special rapporteur had labeled Israel’s action toward the Palestinians as “apartheid.”
“States that choose to make concessions to Israel will find themselves on the wrong side of history,” Fran quotes the Amnesty 2022 report.
Although Fran admits that “apartheid”, the system of racial segregation practiced in South Africa, is a “loaded” word, she says the conclusion was “drawn from decades of research and evidence gathered by humanitarian organizations in the field “.
It is in this spirit that she argues that “balanced” reporting distorts the truth.
“If the world can view Israel/Palestine as a “conflict” between two sides, despite the growing and readily available evidence demonstrating a blatant asymmetry of power and authority, who does that serve? she writes.
“In whose interest are journalists not using the word “occupied” to describe the Palestinian territories?
Smoke rises from Gaza town of Beit Hanoun as Israel continues military action against Hamas
She said that while some media outlets continue to seek balance to avoid complaints, “some will do so in blissful ignorance, unaware that in their stubborn pursuit of balance, the first casualty is the truth.”
“The great irony of finding this balance is that they may have done the one thing they were trying so hard not to do and taken sides,” she writes.
The post garnered more than 3,000 likes and mostly positive comments.
“Jan says the media needs to report more truthfully – rather than trying to present both sides as if they both have valid points of view,” one comment read.
“When good people keep silent, they join the side of the oppressor.”
Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip in response to the bloody Hamas incursion on October 7 has cost the lives of more than 9,000 Palestinians, according to estimates.