[FOUNTAIN]Politically sensitive news

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[FOUNTAIN]Politically sensitive news

Since Adolph Ochs, a Jewish-American businessman, purchased the New York Times in 1896, the daily newspaper has made every effort to avoid the description, "a Jewish newspaper." It was not the anti-Semitism that raged in the late 19th century and early 20th century in America that made the newspaper go that way. The New York Times needed to win a reputation for fairness in order to grow into a top-class daily.

First, the New York Times of Mr. Ochs took a stand against Zionism, a Jewish movement that sought to re-establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The paper said the idea was unrealistic, dangerous and fantastic. It refused to carry advertisements for Jewish-American groups' opinions. It did not even carry letters to the editor from Jews in Nazi Germany that described their miserable state.

For many years, Jewish reporters at the New York Times could not advance to the post of editor. The newspaper had its first Jewish editor, Abe Rosenthal, in 1969. Until the late 1930s, Jewish reporters were banned from receiving bylines for their articles. In the 1950s, the newspaper temporarily limited the employment of Jewish reporters. All those measures were aimed at removing the "Jewish color" from the newspaper.

The New York Times changed its policy when the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria broke out in 1967. Because the American people, both Jews and gentiles, overwhelmingly supported Israel, the newspaper freed itself of its reticence about Jewishness. Since 1969, three Jews in succession have held the editor's seat.

The problems of Jews and Israel are sensitive issues in the American media and political world. Jewish Americans are only 6 million, or 2 percent of the U.S. population, but their influence is strong.

The New York Times carried a large photo of an anti-Israel demonstration in New York City last month, and then had to carry a letter of apology due to the concentrated criticism of Jewish-American groups. When Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, the United States' largest cable news channel, said that Israel and Palestine were waging terrorist attacks against each other in the wake of the June 18 violence, he faced criticism from Israel and Jewish Americans.

When the media deal with sensitive political or social issues, they prefer to be criticized from both sides. Accordingly, reporters are really pleased to report on our World Cup success, because all Koreans have one view on this topic.



The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun

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