Rows over Gaza ads in Jewish Chronicle and Guardian underline fact that advertising is ultimately an editorial issue - Press Gazette

Rows over Gaza ads in Jewish Chronicle and Guardian underline fact that advertising is ultimately an editorial issue

There were two interesting examples this month of adverts becoming an editorial decision on national newspapers – both involving the current conflict in Gaza.

Guardian readers' editor Chris Elliott has revealed that it was editor Alan Rusbridger's decision to allow a controversial advert which accused Hamas of child sacrifice.

The ad (pictured above) was rejected by The Times, but Rusbridger felt: "Advertisers ought to be able to pay to place material in newspapers which the newspapers themselves disagree with or even deplore."

Elliott said he believed The Guardian should have rejected the ad:

"I think the Guardian should have rejected the language of the advertisement and attempted to negotiate change with the authors, something they indicated to the Times that they might consider.

"I agree with the readers that whatever the intention, the biblical language, the references to child sacrifice, all evoke images of that most ancient of antisemitic tropes: the blood libel. The authors may believe that they have steered a careful course by aiming these matters at an organisation, Hamas, rather than all Palestinians, but the association is there. If an advertisement was couched in similar terms but the organisation named was the IDF rather than Hamas, I can’t imagine the Guardian would run it – I certainly hope it wouldn’t. I think that’s the issue."

On Friday, Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard had to explain why his title carried an advert promoting a humanitarian appeal for Gaza by the UK Disasters Emergeny Committee which represents a group of charities.

Pollard seemed to misunderstand the role of the editor in my humble opinion when he said: "As editor, I am not responsible for any ads which appear in the paper."

I think he is. It's his name over the door as it were and if an advertiser committed some extreme contempt of court or hate crime, he would be the one called before a judge.

The publication apologised on its Facebook page and promised to give space to Israeli charities and to the many readers who Pollard said were "angry and upset" about the ad.

It appeared extraordinary that readers of the Jewish Chronicle were so upset about an advert for a humanitarian appeal which has appeared in most national newspapers.

But Pollard explained on Twitter that the issue was a little more complicated than it first appeared (see below).

They are two cases which underline the fact that editors are the custodians of the integrity of their titles and have to be prepared to defend any adverts they carry.



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