Back Stories

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-12-05
  • Publisher: Stanford Univ Pr

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Few topics in the news are more hotly contested than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--and news coverage itself is always a subject of debate. But rarely do these debates incorporate an on-the-ground perspective of what and who newsmaking entails. Studying how journalists work in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Nablus, and on the tense roads that connect these cities, Amahl Bishara demonstrates how the production of U.S. news about Palestinians depends on multifaceted collaborations, typically invisible to Western readers. She focuses on the work that Palestinian journalists do behind the scenes and below the bylines--as fixers, photojournalists, camerapeople, reporters, and producers--to provide the news that Americans read, see, and hear every day. Ultimately, this book demonstrates how Palestinians play integral roles in producing U.S. news and how U.S. journalism in turn shapes Palestinian politics. U.S. objectivity is in Palestinian journalists' hands, and Palestinian self-determination cannot be fully understood without attention to the journalist standing off to the side, quietly taking notes. Back Storiesexamines news stories big and small--Yassir Arafat's funeral, female suicide bombers, protests against the separation barrier, an all-but-unnoticed killing of a mentally retarded man--to investigate urgent questions about objectivity, violence, the state, and the production of knowledge in today's news. This book reaches beyond the headlines into the lives of Palestinians during the second intifada to give readers a new vantage point on both Palestinians and journalism.

Author Biography

Amahl A. Bishara is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Tufts University. She filmed the documentary Across Oceans, Among Colleagues (2002), which follows the advocacy efforts of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists on behalf of journalists in the Middle East.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
A Note on Transliterationp. xvii
Introductionp. 1
Does a Checkpoint Have Two Sides?p. 29
Balanced Objectivity and Accumulated Authorshipp. 34
Words That Fly in the Airp. 68
Arming State Speech, Constraining Journalists' Workp. 73
An Innocent Evening Out? Representing Cultural Life and Resistancep. 102
Working from Home: Disinterest and the Scope of the Politicalp. 106
A Reliable Source? Prison Bars as Sound Barrierp. 131
The Embodied and Up-Close Work of Journalismp. 136
Locating the Foreign Correspondent at a Demonstrationp. 162
The Separation Wall as Stage for Refugee Identitiesp. 167
Parsing "Chaos"p. 197
Watching U.S. Television from the Palestinian Streetp. 202
A Discerning Representation of More Than "Two Sides"p. 229
Conclusion. Framing Graffiti: Voice, Materiality, and Violencep. 233
Notesp. 259
Works Citedp. 291
Indexp. 315
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