Group Protests ‘Star Tribune’s Middle East Coverage

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By: Evan Ramstad, Associated Press Writer

(AP) A group formed by Jewish leaders is protesting the Star Tribune‘s policy on the word “terrorist,” saying the newspaper’s reluctance to apply the term to suicide bombings in Israel distorts public perception of the fighting in the Mideast.

Minnesotans Against Terrorism took out a full-page ad Tuesday in the newspaper, the state’s largest, imploring the Star Tribune to “refer to those who intentionally kill Israeli civilians as terrorists.” The group enlisted support in the ad from the state’s top political leaders, including Gov. Jesse Ventura, both U.S. senators, and four of the state’s eight House members.

The ad also was signed by nearly 400 other Minnesotans, including two dozen Jewish clergy and Judy Yudof of St. Paul, who is president of United Synagogue, a national group representing 800 Conservative Jewish synagogues.

Star Tribune Managing Editor Pam Fine said Tuesday that the ad misrepresented the paper’s policy, which doesn’t “discriminate against Jews or anyone else.”

The policy, explained by ombudsman Lou Gelfand in a Feb. 3 column, is generally to use more specific descriptions than “terrorist,” such as “suicide bomber” or “gunman,” in its news stories.

Gelfand said the paper takes “extra care to avoid the term ‘terrorist’ in articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because of the emotional and heated nature of that dispute.” But he added the paper permits the term in “circumstances in which non-governmental groups carry out attacks on civilians.”

Mark Rotenberg, organizer of Minnesotans Against Terrorism and also general counsel for the University of Minnesota, said his group might take the issue to the Minnesota News Council, an independent association that mediates disputes between citizens and news organizations in the state.

“In a democratic country like ours, public opinion shapes public policy,” Rotenberg said. “It’s important for those who are responsible for shaping public opinion to use accurate terminology in characterizing world events.”

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